Being a special educator can be a very challenging task. Teaching, paperwork, IEP meetings and overseeing paraprofessionals leaves special education teacher drained at the end of the day. Its no wonder that 50% of special education teachers leave their jobs within 5 years.
Parents can help their child with special needs succeed by helping their special teachers breath!
1. Volunteer in School
Know what is happening at school and be an active participant in your child’s education. If you have the time and ability to volunteer hours in your child’s classroom or on field trips – that is always helpful.
2. Help With Supplies
For those parents who are working or who have other commitments during the school day, there are other ways to stay involved as well. You could ask your child’s teacher if there are any classroom supplies needed that you could donate to the room.
3. Volunteer after School
Another great way to stay involved is by attending after-school and evening activities with your child. These events are always a great way to build socialization skills for your child and often many are curriculum-based.
It is important to be consistent as a parent for your child to feel comfortable and safe. Children crave routine so please make it a point to keep some sort of nightly and weekend schedule.
4. Stick To A Routine
If your child knows that every day when they come home they can take a half hour break, have a snack, do their homework, watch a show, have dinner, read, brush their teeth, and then go to bed – they will be prepared and understand the expectations.
5. Use The Same System For School And Home
If your child uses visuals to communicate, make sure those visuals are the same at school as they are at home.
I have had parents approach me wanting to set up a reward system at home if their child does well at school. I encourage this as long as the parent is certain they can enforce it. If the child had a great day – take them to the park, buy them that ice cream, or get them that lego set you promised as a reward.
For some children, it is not enough to create a designated homework time and set up a nice area for them to complete their work (although, I strongly encourage that both of these things are done!).
6. Be Present During Homework Time
Please try and set aside time to be present while your child is doing their homework so you are available should they have any questions.
7. Address Homework Complaints To The Teacher Not The Child
If your child’s teacher has assigned the homework, trust that it is for the benefit of the child. If your child is taught that homework is important from an early age, it will not be as difficult for you to get them to do their work at a later age. If you really believe the homework being given is too difficult or too demanding for your child, talk with their teacher and special educator. It is possible that some accommodations could be made based on your child’s ability level.
Be supportive of your child’s teacher and your child. Appreciate that a teacher’s role is to help your child reach their fullest potential. They are an advocate for your child!
8. Support Your Child’s Teacher
If there is a problem, try to refrain from becoming judgmental or critical. Set up a meeting with the teacher and listen to the explanation with an open-mind. If the teacher is doing what is best for your child, they should be able to explain their actions in a way that makes sense to you.
9. Support Your Child
As a parent, it is also critical you are supportive of your child. This may mean supporting them while they explore a path you wouldn’t have led them on. Your child’s choices may not have been the ones you would have chose for them but see it as a sign that you are raising an independent individual and be proud.
Be supportive and encouraging even when your child’s progress is slow and accomplishments are few and far between. Your child needs to know your unconditional love in order to be successful.
Make Learning Fun
Your child’s teacher is not their only educator. A parent is a child’s first teacher in life so seize the opportunity! Make learning fun by making it hands-on.
10. Create A Fun Learning Environment
As the parent, you have the opportunity to teach your child in ways their teacher can’t. Go on field trips to the park to learn about nature, create a cooking show to improve on fractions, write thank-you notes to practice handwriting, volunteer to teach the importance of compassion, play word games to help with decoding skills in reading, involve your child in housework to introduce life skills, and allow them to help you balance the checkbook for math fluency.
Use every moment as a learning opportunity and be your child’s cheerleader by encouraging their natural curiosity and talents.
What tips would you had to help special education teachers?