Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Parent-Teacher Cooperation: A Shared Responsibility

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Parent-Teacher Cooperation: A Shared Responsibility

Article excerpt

In 1990, Public Law (P.L.) 101-476, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (I.D.E.A.), amended and updated P.L. 94-142 (1975). However, the changes that occurred did not modify one of 94-142's major principles--parent participation. P.L. 94-142 mandated that parents of children with special needs to be included in the planning of their child's educational placement and program. This mandate makes parents and educators partners in the educational decisions made and programs developed for children with disabling conditions.

In any partnership, the parties involved must make a special effort to be understanding and cooperative for the relationship to work. Each must be aware of the other's needs and feelings. While both parents and teachers have voiced concerns about how best to work with each other, professionals have had the advantage of research journals and books that relate parents' concerns. Rarely is information that expresses teacher concerns/suggestions about how to more effectively make this partnership work made available to parents.

In order to help balance the "information scales," a survey of 56 experienced special education teachers' suggestions/concerns. The question asked was: "What could the parents of the children in your room do to make it better/easier for you to talk to them about their child's program, progress or successes?"

The information gathered from the teaches was combined into the guidelines that follow. They reflect what teachers felt parents could do not to help with this important process.

* Work with the child at home. It is always helpful to havre parents help with homework. Try to follow through on suggestions made for the child. For example, flash cards could be used as extra reinforcement in weak areas. When the child brings home something to do, please make sure he/she does it. If they need help, help them with the work and make sure they get the paper back to school on time. If the item couldn't get done, send a note. If you cannot instruct your own child at home patiently and effectively, it may be possible to work out an agreement with other parents to work with each other's children.

Encourage your child to bring home completed work to share with you. A positive parent attitude toward school encourages children to have better attitudes and ultimately greater progress. Have a summer folder for your child to work on or summer activities that encourage the use of skills learned during the school year. This helps with carryover during the summer months.

* Keep the lines of communication open. Remember that communication is a two-way street. Do ask questions--talk to the teacher. Too many times the professional talks and parents listen. Be more verbal, even if you just say: "I don't understand this. please explain it again." Be honest with the teacher. If you don't agree, tell the teacher. Don't let such things ride. If something is bothering you, don't hesitate to ask about it. Try to do so in an open, objective manner.

When you attend an IEP meeting, don't hesitate to state your concerns, feelings or suggestions. Your input is important and needed as well as mandated. …

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