- Behavior Management. Many of the techniques and strategies mentioned in this book can be carried over into the home. Besides helping parents gain control of their child’s behavior, this also reinforces what you are doing in the classroom, and lets the child know his parents and teacher are working together in meeting his needs.
A potential pitfall is that some of the techniques–behavior modification for example–look simple on the outside, but require a fair degree of precision in putting them into practice. If a technique is not done correctly or inconsistently, it can do more harm than good. One way of making sure parents do techniques the same way as you is to invite them into your classroom to observe you, and practise while you give them feedback.
You can also advise parents of any parent training programs being offered either at your school or in the community. Programs like Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (STEP), and Parent Effectiveness Training (PET), guide parents on how to raise their child, as well as letting them share their ideas and experiences with other parents (see Appendix C for more information). If parents are unable or unwilling to attend meetings regularly, you can suggest self-learning outlets such as books, manuals, videos, and computer software.
- Support Groups. Several parent support groups are emerging. These provide parents with (a) a regular time and place to meet; (b) a chance to talk with other parents; (c) practical help and information; and (d) an opportunity to learn about community resources, scientific breakthroughs, and changes in legislative and educational policies affecting their child. Some communities have more innovative ideas such as sibling and father support groups, and groups matching seasoned veterans who have raised a problem child with parents who recently found out about their child’s disability. For a listing of resources in British Columbia see Appendix D.
- Social Service Agencies. Provincially and federally funded agencies such as the Ministry of Social Services and Housing and the Ministry of Health provide a range of services and information–financial aid, health care, respite care, counseling, parenting help, day care–for children and families.
- Medical Doctor. If you have a hunch that a child’s problems are organic, you may suggest parents take him to see their family doctor or his pediatrician. Their doctor can make any necessary referrals to specialists such as neurologists or psychiatrists.
- Community Activities. Community sports and clubs promote children’s athletic and social skills, as well as giving parents some time away from their child. Some organizations for parents to look into are Boys and Girls Clubs, Brownies and Cubs, YWCA and YMCA, particular programs for learning disabled and problem children, summer camps such as Camp Decca for learning disabled children, university programs, and religious organizations. Appendix E provides you with details on some of these programs.
This chapter gave you ideas on how you can communicate with parents, give them help, and include them in their child’s education. If you would like more detailed information, read A. Turnbull and H. Turnbull’s book Families, Professionals, and Exceptionality: A Special Partnership, 1986. Some of the ideas in this chapter were adapted from this book.
I urge you to be as creative, flexible, and understanding as you can in building your partnership with parents. Parents can be a valuable source of information, ideas, and inspiration.