Guest Author - Susan Hart
Parents play a great role in the education of their special needs children. While special education teachers generally work hard and make a great difference, they cannot be expected to educate these special children on their own. Parents must do their part in order for their children to reach their full potential. If parents are willing to take an active role in their childrenís education, they will see great progress and feel immeasurable satisfaction.
Some might argue that a parentís responsibility ends after the IEP is written. This, however, is only the beginning. Parents should give input into what goals are written in the IEP. Then, they should make sure these goals are worked on at home as well as at school. If parents are working with their children at home, not only will the children progress more quickly, but they will also see how committed their parents are to education and to them. Time spent working on IEP goals at home brings a closer bond between parent and child.
By keeping in frequent contact with teachers and therapists, parents can know exactly what is going on in the classroom and in therapy sessions. When parents know what the teacher is teaching in a particular week, they can work on teaching the same concepts at home, thus reinforcing the teaching done at school. Teachers appreciate parents who are willing to work with their children to improve their education. Therapy can also be worked on at home, and since children generally see therapists much less frequently than they see teachers, doing therapy at home is essential.
So, how do you know what and how to teach your child at home? The first step is talking with the teacher. Learn what techniques or tools the teacher uses in the classroom. Ask what techniques your child has best responded to. Find out if the teacher has anything you can borrow or anything he or she would recommend for you to do or use to teach a particular concept.
Setting aside specific time to work with your child every day will help you ensure that you spend this valuable time together. It might be beneficial to set a schedule for what specific goals you want to work on each day. For example, on Monday you could work on letter recognition and on Tuesday play in Jell-O as a sensory activity. Consistency is the key.
This might seem overwhelming to some parents, but it doesnít have to be. You know your child better than anyone else does. With some experimentation and some direction from your childís teacher, you can find ways to stimulate your child and stretch his mind and body. Creativity is essential in teaching special needs children. Donít be discouraged if you are not particularly creative; you can find ideas from teachers, therapists, other parents, and books such as those listed below.
The Child With Special Needs: Encouraging Intellectual and Emotional Growth (Merloyd Lawrence Book)
Families, Professionals and Exceptionality: Positive Outcomes Through Partnership and Trust (5th Edition)