The connection between teachers and the parents of their students is often neglected. Especially when it comes to a child with special needs, communication between their teacher and parents is important for their development. Fostering the bond between teacher and parent contributes to the child’s education and growth success. What can a teacher do to help nourish their relationship with the parents?
How Do You Talk To A Parent with a Special Needs Child?
The best foot forward for a teacher is to open up and embrace communication with the parents of the special needs student. While many teachers are required to send report cards home or attend parent-teacher conferences, establishing a connection over email with parents can create a more direct avenue of information. This makes it easier to keep the parents updated on their child’s performance or bring up any behavioral issues they may have in the classroom. Parents need more insight into how their child is doing in the classroom to give them the best treatment for their special needs; comprehensive communication is amazing at establishing this insight.
Keep Lines of Communication Open
After establishing regular, comfortable communication with the parents, a teacher should provide consistent updates regarding the student with special needs. The teacher can be an extra eye for the parents, looking out for any behavioral or cognitive changes based on their classroom and academic performance. Teachers should take note of how the child normally acts and become aware of any changes, both positive and negative, to report to their parents. When making these observations, the teacher should not try to label or categorize the child as they usually are not mental health specialists, and categorizing can lead to misunderstandings of the child. This categorization can also make parents feel uneasy as if the teacher is overstepping their boundaries.
Individualized Education Programs (IEP) Meetings
Teachers of special needs children are typically responsible for attending IEP meetings with parents, caretakers, and professionals involved in their treatment plan. Before attending these meetings, it is a good idea for the teacher to gather as much information as possible and have a plan for disseminating this information. Gathering notes on their observations of the child and providing supplementary materials such as outside resources or the child’s schoolwork are great steps toward making the IEP meeting as productive as possible. After these meetings are over, it is a good idea to follow up with the parents to see if the meeting brought any insight or if they have any further questions that the teacher can further clarify.
Recommend Support Resources Outside of School
Many parents are too busy to find a wide range of resources to help their children or are simply unaware of where to look for these. Support groups, various treatment options, and home practices are all very useful for parents of special needs children to know about and explore. Teachers often have the educational background and social networks to best explore different resources that can be useful for parents. Sharing this knowledge can only help the world around them grow.
Encouraging Long-Term Success
Not every teacher is expected to go above and beyond for their students by working with the parents. However, opening up this connection and fostering healthy communication can go a long way to ensuring their students’ success in the classroom and the long life ahead of them.