Sample Letter of Understanding Description

Our children often require innovative teaching strategies and great energy on the part of teachers. Too often, teachers receive attention only when things are going wrong. It's imperative that parents recognize the importance of positive communication when things are going really well for their child. Teachers need those pats on the back just as much as a child does. Teachers are absolutely thrilled to receive an attractive handwritten note of genuine thanks and recognition.

Our son had a teacher who received such a heartfelt note and she told him that in 23 years of teaching, she had not received such a note. She was going to put in in her "special treasures box". We also made sure such teachers were recognized in writing in front of peers and administrators. It's wonderful to see such efforts recognized by parents and a professional's peers.

In other instances, letters of understanding are excellent tools to document conversations and to clarify positions. When people communicate, sometimes there are misunderstandings regarding what took place and future expectations. School administrators, special ed personnel, teachers and parents can misunderstand exactly what is asked of them or what the expectations are.

A letter of understanding is a very useful clarification tool and becomes especially important when verbal communication doesn't seem to be working.

What this letter accomplishes:

  • Allows for true misunderstandings to be resolved quickly.

  • Keeps a reasonable timeline, or if necessary, a deadline to resolve misunderstandings.

  • Allows for clarification of the issues as you see them.

  • Invites clarification of issues from the other person's standpoint.

  • Can keep the issues focused, not generalized.

  • Shows you are keeping the lines of communication open for all participants.

  • Gives you an excellent documentation record for your file.

  • Calls for accountability of verbal conversations in person or on the phone.

  • Lays out the problems as you see them and places on record the date of your concern.

  • Provides an excellent record laying the basis for more formal complaints if you should need to go on to the State Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, or U.S. Department of Education.

  • Demonstrates that you have tried to resolve issues at the local level, and with whom you spoke.

The letters should always polite and as brief as possible. Individually number your specific concerns and repeat any important conversations you had with another party or comments you heard another party make. This provides the other party with an opportunity to correct your understanding.

How friendly the letter should be depends on the circumstances. If this is a new situation I would be very polite and invitational in discussing issues. If it's a long standing issue, you may have to be more firm.

I would include a date by which you request a response. (Your child does not have more months or years to waste.) This type of letter calls for answers, with a built-in timeline. It should not include irate words that bruise people's egos. An irate person is a person out-of-control. This approach is counterproductive in the long run. If you feel a lot of anger, I recommend a draft letter, let it sit 48 hours, then tear it up and start from scratch.

Remember, the purpose of your letter is to accomplish what's best for your child. With this approach, anyone can come on board and do what's needed, without feeling they're in a win/lose situation. We want everyone to be winners, especially your child.

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APA Reference
Staff, H. (2007, June 7). Sample Letter of Understanding Description, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 24 from

Last Updated: February 13, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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