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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Winning Over Those on the Front Line

From Smart Kids with LD

By Sheryl Knapp
August 27, 2013

Developing collaborative, non-adversarial, mutually respectful relationships with your child’s teachers is fundamental to his success in school. But oftentimes that’s easier said than done. Following are some tried and true strategies to help you establish a parent-teacher relationship that will ensure his success throughout the year.

Be Proactive

Request a get-to-know-each-other meeting. The school year begins with teachers having only rudimentary knowledge of your child, if that. It is critical that his team—general and special education teachers, classroom aides, and other team members—come together early in the school year to discuss pertinent issues, including his learning style, strengths, challenges, temperament, etc.

As the semester goes on, plan, plan, and then plan some more. There will always be unforeseen situations that arise, but you can minimize these surprises—and give teachers the knowledge and tools they need to respond when the unforeseen occurs—if you take the time to proactively plan for them.

Maintain Communication

Establish a vehicle to facilitate regular parent-teacher communication. Options such as email and texting are good for quick check-ins. The more traditional bound notebook (pages can’t be ripped out) that travels in your child’s backpack is a better option for more extensive exchanges that might involve sending materials back and forth.

Agree in advance on the anticipated frequency of exchanges (e.g., twice a week for general and special ed teachers, monthly for related service providers). But also use the communication tool for getting information as needed. This enables you to get valuable feedback, including activities to reinforce at home, progress reports, etc., while also offering you the opportunity to respond to specific situations as they arise.

Allow Space and Time

Give teachers time to work out problems on their own before you intervene. Teachers need time to get to know your child (as well as the other children he interacts with), develop routines, address unforeseen challenges, and seize unexpected opportunities.

The amount of time required depends upon the situation, but typically is at least a few weeks. Resist the urge to intervene immediately. It’s better to err on the side of waiting too long; interjecting yourself before a team member has ample opportunity to work out solutions on her own is likely to result in resentment and jeopardize long-term collaboration.

Address Issues Directly

Never report a teacher to her supervisor without first trying to resolve the situation with her. No one likes to have someone go over their head, and the consequences of doing so may be irreparable.

Support Classroom Efforts

Do not focus exclusively on your child or his disability. Teachers are always in need of parental support—particularly in the earlier school years—and it will not be viewed positively if you always have time to micromanage your child’s program, but rarely volunteer to help with class activities. Moreover, such participation provides an invaluable opportunity to interact on an informal basis with teachers without the pressure of having to discuss your child’s program or performance.

Keep a Professional Distance

Remember that the teachers are not your friends. That is not to say you can’t have a friendly, open relationship, but take care not to cross the professional parent-teacher line. The more friendly you become, the more difficult it is to objectively evaluate your child’s program and to question it or the teacher should the need arise.

Developing a positive, professional relationship with your child’s teacher may take extra time and effort on your part, but the payoff is a parent-teacher collaboration that will serve your child better than if you’re working at cross purposes.

Preparing for A New School Year: 4 Tips for Success

By Eve Kessler, Esq.
August 27, 2013

With school just around the corner, there’s no time like the present to prepare for a new school year. As parents it’s your job to manage your child’s education and secure her rights under the law.

Following are some tips to help you establish a collaborative partnership with your school to achieve those goals:

Talk—and listen—to your child. Find out how she feels about school, as well as her likes and dislikes. Until she settles in to her new environment, she may be nervous or anxious. Encouraging her to verbalize concerns will allow you to allay those you can, and will also help you assess how her adjustment progresses. Recurring issues may signal the need for further action on your part.

Speak with your child’s teachers. Within the first few weeks of a new semester, find out from her teachers if she is having difficulty with homework, is unable to complete work independently, begins but can’t complete assignments, or has difficulty recalling instruction during the school day. Also ask about her social adjustment as that may be impacting her academics.

Observe your child at home. Does she complain about physical illness or invent excuses in order to stay home from school? Does she have friends? Does she talk about or know the names of classmates? Does she use only negative comments when talking about school?

Get organized, Develop a profile of your child’s strengths and concerns, both in and out of school.
  • Keep an ongoing file or journal of meetings, phone calls, letters, etc.
  • Put every concern, request and objection in writing to all involved.
  • Compile a binder with tabs for evaluations, IEPs, samples of current performance (writing samples, tests, projects, activities, homework, etc.) and written communications.
  • Include a chart listing all evaluations by date, evaluator, test given, major areas of concern, and recommendations.
  • Make two copies of all evaluations/reports; keep one as an original and use the other as a working copy.
  • Bring this file/binder with you to all meetings regarding your child.
Eve Kessler, Esq., an attorney with The Legal Aid Society, NYC, is President of SPED*NET Wilton (CT) and a Contributing Editor of Smart Kids.


NESCA (Neuropsychology and Education Services for Children and Adolescents) is a pediatric neuropsychology group practice in Newton, MA whose senior clinicians and allied staff evaluate and treat a wide range of complex learning, developmental, behavioral  and emotional disorders. Seeking to identify and empower the best in each child, they also address special education issues, school placements and post-secondary transition, often observing children in their classrooms and participating in TEAM meetings. NESCA has served clients from throughout the U.S. and more than twenty other countries.

1 comment:

  1. Developing a friendly relationship with the students and helping them learn things is an ideal way of teaching. This is what usually followed by many Tutoring service providers.