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Navigating Sensitive Conversations: A Guide for Kindergarten Educators on Discussing Developmental Delays and Concerns with Parents

Kindergarten educators are often among the first to observe the diverse range of developmental paths in young children. This unique position creates an environment that allows educators to notice early signs that a child may be facing challenges in areas such as communication, social skills, attention, or learning. Kindergarten educators can observe symptoms that may suggest a condition like Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Specific Learning Disorder, Intellectual Disability, or other developmental concerns.

Kindergarten educators are often faced with the delicate task of discussing these observations with parents. This blog post aims to guide educators on how to approach these conversations with empathy, understanding, and support, ensuring a constructive dialogue that ultimately benefits the child.

Preparing for the Conversation

Gather Evidence

Before initiating the conversation, document specific observations and examples of the child’s behaviour that have raised concerns. This preparation can help provide clear, objective information to parents. You can read more about gathering evidence here.

Educate Yourself 

Familiarise yourself with the early signs of various developmental disorders and understand the range of normal child development. This knowledge will help you articulate your concerns more effectively and reassure parents.

Seek Support

Consult with colleagues, special education teachers, or school psychologists who can offer advice and support based on their experiences and expertise.

Managing Your Anxiety

It's natural to feel anxious about initiating a conversation that may be distressing to parents. To manage this anxiety:

  • Remind Yourself of Your Role

Remember, your primary goal is to support the child’s development. Early identification and intervention can significantly impact the child’s academic and social success.

  • Practice Empathy

Consider how you would feel in the parent's position and approach the conversation with the compassion and sensitivity you would appreciate.

  • Prepare Mentally: Visualize the conversation, anticipate potential reactions, and plan your responses. This mental preparation can help reduce anxiety and increase your confidence.

Facilitating the Conversation

Choose the Right Time and Place: Ensure the setting is private and you have enough time to have an in-depth conversation without interruptions.

Be Empathetic and Direct: Start by expressing your care and concern for their child’s well-being and development. Be honest but sensitive in sharing your observations.

Use “I” Statements: Frame your observations subjectively to avoid sounding accusatory. For example, "I’ve noticed that John seems to struggle with..." can be more effective than "John can’t..."

Offer Resources, Not Diagnoses: Remember, as educators, we are not qualified to diagnose. Instead, suggest that a consultation with a Psychologist or Paediatrician could provide valuable insights and support.

Highlight Strengths: Ensure the conversation is balanced by discussing the child’s strengths, interests, and areas of progress.

Supporting the Parents

Provide Information Offer resources about where parents can seek professional evaluations (e.g., Psychologists, Paediatricians) and support groups.

Reassure Them: Emphasise that many resources and interventions are available to help their child succeed and thrive.

Stay Connected: Offer ongoing support and maintain open lines of communication. Follow up on the conversation and be available to discuss any concerns or developments.

Supports Available

For each party involved, knowing where to turn for help is crucial:

For Parents: If assessments may be required Boutique Psychology can assist with these and can provide ongoing support to the family support their child. 

Online resources for parents to assist with intervention is also recommended. 

For Teachers: Seek out professional development opportunities related to special education and join forums or communities of educators for advice and support.

For Children: Ensure that the school environment is inclusive, supportive, and equipped with the necessary resources to meet their individual needs.


Approaching parents with concerns about their child's development is undoubtedly challenging, but it is a crucial step in ensuring that children receive the support they need to thrive. By approaching these conversations with preparation, empathy, and a focus on support, kindergarten teachers can play a pivotal role in the lives of children who may face developmental challenges. Remember, the goal is to foster a collaborative relationship with parents that centres on the well-being and success of the child.

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