As parents of children with disabilities, it is often difficult to know how our kids are doing in their school day. This can be especially true for children who don’t communicate verbally. And many parents struggle with how to help with classwork when they don’t know the teacher‘s expectations or if the student is completing the assignment correctly. Here are a few tips to help your child during the school day and possibly bridge the gap between home and school.
Notebook between home and school. Daily or weekly communication notebooks are an excellent way to establish and maintain two-way communication between school and home. The notebooks usually take the form of three-ring binders, spiral notebooks or folders. Teachers can also take it up a level by creating a classroom Facebook page with weekly updates, an email listserv or website. Students become more accountable knowing that their teacher and parents are regularly communicating.
Homework time. It is important to communicate to your child’s teacher if your child spends an excessive amount of time on homework. Homework can reinforce what is learned in the classroom but it can also be a source of nightly stress for student and parent. Ask at your child’s ARD if they can do odds/evens on problems or limit work to no more than 30 minutes a night. Before and after school tutoring can also help a student work on their homework and not take it home. And many times after school tutor groups are a much smaller group for your child to learn.
Spending time at school. Make plans to eat lunch with your child – being visible at your child’s school helps the teachers and staff to get to know you. It may be a good time for your child to bring up a student or subject that may be bothering them. It also helps if you are able to volunteer, attend parent meetings and participate in at least one committee. This is a great way to get to know your child’s teachers on a different level.
Make sure your child gets enough rest. It may sound simple enough, but studies show that a good night's sleep improves learning. Children and teens who don’t get enough sleep may have problems getting along with others. Lack of sleep can cause anger, impulsivity, mood swings and lack of motivation. Not enough sleep can also cause problems paying attention and the student may get lower grades and feel stressed. Don't forget, most kids between the ages of five and twelve need 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night. If your child has sleep issues through the night due to factors related to their disability, be sure to let your physician know.
Obviously the responsibility of communication is a two way street. Schools should not only strive to communicate with parents but encourage it as a daily habit. Parents know their child better than anyone and most often have to take the lead in advocating for their child. Open communication can make a school year a success for student and parent.
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