April is Autism Awareness Month, and with it comes Spring’s feelings of change and hope.
This is also often the time of year that parents reflect on the things that worked over the school year—and those that didn’t. Many times, the issues that can arise and create stress for families boil down to miscommunication. At Beacon Day School, we collaborate with families to set IEP goals for your child that meet the specific needs of your family. The goal of school and home partnerships is to motivate, engage, and guide each student to achieve their goals. In positive family-school interactions, families and schools work together to set shared priorities, exchange ideas, and improve learning experiences for their students. They foster positive educational and social outcomes by creating positive relations between home and school.
Family-school collaborations can assist students in producing more meaningful work and academic practice. This leads to increased student confidence, engagement, and commitment to learning, not just in the home and at school but also in the greater community. Besides the obvious benefits these strong home-classroom connections present for students, they support parents, peers, teachers, and communities as well. Studies have shown the family-school relationships can help parents flourish as individuals, achieve increased confidence and satisfaction in parenting, and enhanced interest in their schooling and career.
Understanding why building a relationship and utilizing positive communication skills between school and home does not explain how exactly we can achieve this. As parents with children who have special needs, we can often feel overwhelmed with the amount of information needed just to navigate an educational plan for their child. There are behaviorists, doctors, interventionists, teachers, and other professionals that all wish to communicate with you at some point or another. This can be frustrating when the communication is lacking in clarity or timeliness. As parents, how can we reinforce positive collaboration?
Create a Daily Communication Routine
Certain students with special needs or diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have difficulties with speech and communication. These students are not able to update their families about school events and daily activities or notify their teachers about personal issues that need attention. These students can be exposed to potentially dangerous or harmful situations. Keep everyone on the team informed by creating a communication routine. This can look a number of different ways, but the point is to keep things simple. Many families choose to opt for a notebook that is kept in the student’s backpack at all times. This allows educational team members to keep each other in the loop regarding daily school performance, taking note of new behaviors, and notifying the family of any possible issues that can arise at home. This also allows parents to let the team know if the student is having problems with sleep, medication, or personal complications that may affect their performance at school. When the educational team is kept informed about the non-academic side of your child’s life, they can accommodate their teaching to best serve your child from day to day. Other ideas for a communication routine can include a simple check-in/check-out report or other visual that best communicates to families what the day looked like.
Beacon Day School conducts informative parent workshops to help families understand strategies and skills to reinforce their child’s learning at home. A quality curriculum includes parental involvement. Parents represent one part of the whole team: extended family members often contribute to the educational, socio-emotional, and cultural development of their relative’s children. Students with ASD may have difficulty generalizing information across settings, activities, and people. Academic performance and behavior can vary between home and school. Maintaining consistency at home with skills from school is essential for your child to retain their goal mastery. Childhood experiences with programs and school staff prepare parents to encourage their children and instill in them the values of meaningful interactions across settings.
Express Your Needs Clearly & Positively
Beacon Day School provides support for your child AND your family – keeping personal priorities in mind. While also assisting families in establishing their children as students, schools have a responsibility to recognize and honor each child’s uniqueness and embrace all families. Educators base home experiences to design engaging, relevant, and appropriate academic applications for their students. Not only do we work with your family to establish relevant IEP goals, but we provide Community Based Instruction (CBI) to help your child build flexibility, self-regulation, and communication skills in public. We assist our older students with independent living skills and navigating public services.
Support Your Team
Building relationships has a positive effect on children’s opportunities to learn and their participation, attitudes, behaviors, and accomplishments. Your educational team at Beacon Day School wants your child to achieve their goals. Parents and guardians hold an equal part of this team, and being a team player will help your child achieve success. Strong family-school relationships lead to more effective homework engagement and completion, as well as better attendance. Students experience improvements with self-regulation, behavior, and social skills and strengthened classroom engagement and cultivation of interpersonal relationships with peers, parents, and teachers. These benefits contribute to other long-term, valuable effects, such as a feeling of increased potential and constructive experience in learning and desires to learn.
The heart of a positive educational experience for all students is developing relationships between parents and teachers. When both the educational team and family work together to support their child’s education, the child achieves more. It is clear that the ideal home–school relationship does not just benefit the student. It also helps the families and the teachers, and as a result, the entire community. Building a positive interaction between schools and families means paving the foundations for effective, positive solutions.
Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash