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Fostering Positive Communication Between Home and School

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This article has been re-posted from the Waterloo Regional Family Network newsletter, Family Pluse. Click here to read the original newsletter

The summer is half over, and even though it seems like we just finished the transition into summer, it’s already time to start thinking about how to transition out. Preparing our children for the school year takes a lot of planning and preparation.

We’re very pleased that this year we have been able to put together a Back To School Seminar focusing on creating positive communication between home and school, with perspectives offered by parents and representatives from both school boards. It’s not always easy to support your child collaboratively in the educational environment they happen to be in. This panel will offer strategies and communication tips to ensure that close and trusting relationships can be developed with those responsible for your child’s learning environment. It will occur Tuesday Sept 1 from 7-9pm at The Family Centre, and we definitely encourage everyone to attend. More information is included in this issue of Family Pulse (see page 4).

It can be very difficult as a parent who knows a great deal about their child to step back and allow educators and support staff to make choices for them. If choices that are made for your child do not match up with your idea of the best thing for your child, a situation can quickly escalate. Instead of viewing school staff as an oppositional force, try your best to be open and accessible to suggestions made.

Teachers and support staff want what’s best for your child, even if they are limited by circumstances and resources. Respect and active listening are important skills to foster when dealing collaboratively with school staff, and are the root of a strong, trusting relationship. The primary beneficiary of that relationship will always be your child.

Some of the issues we will be addressing in our seminar, with the goal of successful school-home collaboration are:

  • Opening the lines of communication
  • Developing relationships based on trust
  • Recognizing positive intent, and believing educators want what is best for your child
  • Utilizing active listening skills
  • Recognizing a learning opportunity and growing from it
  • Minimizing emotional conflict with various communication strategies

Although each individual circumstance is different, many of these strategies can be applied in almost any support situation. Starting the school year with the right tools is essential for an enhanced school experience.

Back to School Tips

Establish routines

Discuss and plan the changes in your child’s daily routine that will occur once the school year starts. Routines can even be practiced, if necessary, with emphasis on morning and evening routines. During transition time, comfort clothing may be necessary. Supplies should also be purchased well in advance, as some children may be very particular.

Help your child picture it

If your child learns visually, take a picture of the classroom and ask the teacher for permission to photograph them. These pictures can also be used as tools to discuss the coming year and set expectations.

Line up all your paperwork

Ensure that all your paperwork is in order. Review your child’s special education documentation and meetings, and ensure the information you need is in order in an accessible location, such as a binder.

Review the current IEP

Ensure you are familiar with the current IEP. Understanding and supporting it is essential. Note when it will be up for review, and make sure you think it is still relevant to your child’s needs. If you believe it is no longer relevant, you should arrange for a review meeting.

Keep everyone informed

Be as proactive and honest with your child’s needs as you can. Everyone will benefit by staff being able to meet your child’s needs sooner and more effectively. Attend back to school events, teacher meetings and any other events arranged by the school. This will allow you to get a feel for the teachers and learning environment while giving you a good opportunity to communicate your child’s needs. Scheduling a classroom visit before school starts might also be useful.

Keep up with special education news

Knowledge is empowering. Knowing about your child’s IEP and disability, as well as current news on legislation and events, can help you become a better advocate for your child.

Although this list is fairly generic, here is a link to a back-to-school article library that may have information more specific to your child’s needs. Although the authorship is based in the states, there is quite a lot of useful information.

Twelve Steps to Success for Parents and Children with Disabilities

1. Be your child’s best and most consistent advocate.

2. Share your valuable information about your child with the professionals who need your input.

3. Put it in writing and keep a copy.

4. Try to resolve problems at the appropriate level, but don’t hesitate to escalate (following proper communication protocol) if a problem is not resolved.

5. Keep records.

6. Seek information when it’s needed.

7. Take the time to think things through before making a decision.

8. Give yourself permission to be less than perfect. Important lessons are learned through both success and failure.

9. Don’t be a martyr. Take a break now and then.

10. Maintain a sense of humor. It’s good for the emotional well-being of both you and your child.

11. Always remember to tell people when they are doing a good job.

12. Encourage your child to make decisions, because one day, they will need to do so.

 

This article has been re-posted from the Waterloo Regional Family Network newsletter, Family PluseClick here to read the original newsletter

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