Ideally, learning should be a partnership between the home and the school. This is especially so when a child has special learning needs and requires more support. Teachers do the best they can to maximize a class’ learning, but they need to be made aware of special circumstances that can make studies more challenging for a particular child. Similarly, teachers’ efforts are best supported and even enhanced by at-home parental interventions.
The following are some tips on how parents of a child with learning disabilities can work better with their child’s teachers:
Develop a Relationship
Your child’s teachers care about your child. Teachers want their students to become the best that they can be, and want them to benefit as much as possible from the classroom environment. So introduce yourself to your child’s teacher, and start to build your team. Attend PTA meetings, sign notes home, call in with questions or concerns. In order to establish rapport, make sure to give the teacher positive feedback as well as appreciation: “Johnny just loves your class! You obviously have a way with kids!” Small gifts at holiday times are also good ways of showing appreciation.
Communicate Your Child’s Special Needs
If your child has already been diagnosed with a learning disorder or other special needs, it’s important that you inform your child’s teachers as soon as possible. While parents understandably don’t want their kid to be discriminated because of his or her disability, they do want the best education possible. This may involve using special teaching or grading strategies, making various accomodations and so forth. You can help the teacher understand your child’s reactions, behavior and learning style by providing all the information you have. This will enable the teacher to bring out the best in your youngster. Even if your child does not have a formal assessment, you may know something that the teacher does not about what motivates your child. Sharing your insights with the teacher can empower the teacher to achieve more with your child.
Be Prepared to Educate Your Child’s Teacher about Your Child’s Condition
Don’t assume that the classroom teacher knows all there is to know about various learning challenges. Children may have learning disabilities, ADHD, behavioral issues, trauma, anxiety or mood issues that interfere with their ability to learn. While almost all teachers have some background in special needs and special education, not all are experienced or have expertise handling specific conditions. It’s up to you as a parent then to provide classroom teachers with resources on what your child is going through, and specific tips on how, as teachers, they can help your child.
Communicate Your Child’s Strong Points
Remember to communicate your child’s strengths as well. Your child is not defined by his or her learning problems and challenges. If both you and his or her teacher are consistent in reinforcing positive areas of growth, then you can further strengthen these areas, and create a more resilient child.
Be Willing to be Part of the Assessment Process
When teachers notice changes in a child’s performance or behavior, they may want speak with you. Perhaps they want to make recommendations, urge you to get assessment or treatment for your child, or ask for your help. Since all of their concerns have to do with your child’s education, it’s most helpful if you listen carefully to what the teacher is saying. This is no time to be overprotective of your child or defensive about him or her. Instead, it’s the time to collaborate with the teacher and work together to bring out the best in your youngster. When the teacher sees that you take his or her concerns seriously, he or she will be even more inspired to work hard on behalf of your child.