By Vicki Parnell, originally posted on

You are the expert on your child.

You have spent a lot of time and energy caring for your child, developing a strong relationship, figuring out what works. You may not get it right all of the time, but you probably have an intuitive sense of what helps (and what makes things worse).

When you’re blessed with a child who is a little bit (or a lot) outside of the norm – a child with unique needs and talents and challenges – sending your child off to school can be a nerve-wracking experience.

Kids who are wired differently can find it quite challenging to transition to school, because they may struggle with things that are easy for a typical student. Parents may be counting on the child’s teacher to have an intuitive sense of what is making school harder for their child, and to be able to support that child effectively. But it’s not always that straightforward.

It can be frustrating for parents to hear questions, stories, even complaints from a teacher; especially if the teacher is responding to the child’s behaviour in ways that the parent instinctively knows will not help.

Collaboration is the key!

I think the most important thing I’ve learned during the years my two “differently wired” kids have been in school is that teachers genuinely want to help, but they may need time and support to understand your child as intuitively as you do. It turns out that you can’t force intuition!

What you can do, though, is be an ally:

  • Be willing to share your knowledge and understanding of your unique child.
  • Show that you appreciate the teacher’s experience and value their perspective about what works in their classroom.
  • Trust that the teacher’s instincts will develop through partnership with you and your child
  • Commit to having constructive, collaborative conversations and being a team throughout the school year