We all know it takes a village to raise a child and to make sure that child receives a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE); the two most important components in making that happen are the parents and the school. In order to do that, everyone needs to do be responsible for their role in educating that child as well as work together to address all their areas of need. I know it’s not an easy task to accomplish; however, the student will have a better opportunity to receive FAPE if both parties work together instead of spending their time working against each other. Here are some tips that might help to achieve a good working relationship between parents and schools.
1. Establish a means of communication between school and parent
Some schools use email, others use notes; it doesn’t matter what methods are used to communicate as long as both parties are in contact with each other when necessary.
2. Ask questions
If the school has a question, they need to contact the parents; just as the parents need to contact the school if they have questions. Good communication between school and parents will cover all bases in the welfare of students with special needs.
3. Parents and teachers need to be on the same page with what is being taught in the classrooms so that it can be re-taught at home
If a child is struggling with homework, both parties should meet so that parents can piggy back on what and how the work is being taught in school. This is quite helpful since many parents need to re-teach lessons at home because their child needs reinforcement to understand what was taught earlier in class.
4. Schedule monthly meetings between school and parent if necessary
If a student is struggling a lot, it would be a good idea for parents to meet with their teacher, resource specialist, etc….so that both parties discuss in person what is happening in school and at home. When both parties are aware of what is going on with the child in each environment, they can work in unison to help the child in all their areas of need across all environments.
5. School and parent need to be on the same page when a child is being rewarded at home for good behavior at school
Many parents reward their child for good behavior in school; the key to consistency is the schools participation. The school can use the child’s reward, as needed, for the child to choose the good behavior in school.
6. Listen to each other
As we all know, children act differently at home than school, which is why it’s imperative that both parties need to listen to each other. Sometimes a child will exhibit a new behavior in school but not at home or they struggle with homework even though they were able to complete the class work in school. Both parties need to listen to each other’s concerns and work together to come up with solutions that can help the student in their areas of need.
7. Disagree Respectfully
Schools and parents will not always agree on everything. When this happens, make sure it does not become personal; when name calling enters the picture, the working relationship between school and parent is destroyed.
8. Do not lose sight of who the IEP is for
Many times at an IEP I hear the words “I want” from both parties. An IEP is not for the school, nor is it for the parents….it is for the child. Both parties need to drop that term and focus on what the child needs, not their own agenda.
9. Don’t hesitate to call an IEP if necessary
If either party feels the need to call an IEP, then do it! Address whatever problems or issues that have risen sooner rather than later; before the situation becomes worse. It’s in the best interest of the child!!
10. Communicate, Communicate, and Communicate!!
I cannot stress enough the value of communication between parents and school. I’ve sat through many IEP’s and one of the main problems I see is that neither party communicated what they should’ve, but now they finally are. Once that happens, then both sides can work on solutions together…remember 2 heads are better than 1!