Family Involvement: Parent Voices and Perspectives

Parents meeting with teacher

Author: Nicole Gallagher, M.Ed.

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”

Maya Angelou

As Maya Angelou suggests, if parents help their children to embrace their uniqueness with open arms rather than see it as a weakness, then they are helping them to pave the road to success instead of failure.

I have witnessed many parents in the past few years become much more accepting of the their child’s challenges, and in turn have helped their child begin to realize their full potential. This is can be done in a variety of ways. It is important that parents are well informed of their child’s strengths and needs. When a parent is in good communication with the school; the teachers, administrators, and staff can make sure everyone is on the same page. All members of this group are on the “same team” for the student.  I have found that the most successful students are the ones that have many advocates working in their favor.

The National Center for Learning Disabilities lists five essential skills for becoming your child’s advocate.

Skill 1: Become informed about your child’s learning disability.

Skill 2: Learn about your child’s educational rights,

Skill 3: Learn to become a clear communicator,

Skill 4: Learn to work collaboratively with your child’s school,

Skill 5: Learn to be in charge of your emotions.

By the time students reach the intermediate school level, where I teach, many of them have been receiving services for quite some time. There are ideas that have worked and strategies that have proven to not be the best choice for the student. When the team decides to try something different I have found that consistency is key during the implementation. The student benefits in many ways and in all aspects of their day. This applies to academics as well as behavioral expectations.

One of my students this year and last has a father that is very involved and supportive. He makes sure that he is aware of all the assignments his son needs to complete and works very hard to make a schedule to complete the assignments at home. He will sit with his child and guide him through his assignments until they are successfully completed. His son often struggles with reading so he will help him to read and analyze the questions, without simply handing him the answers. The father knows that I expect his son to do the best he can and to ask for help completing the assignment to the best of his abilities. This student has made great strides over the last two years and I think a large part of it is due to parental support. This great example of a parent making helping and guiding his child a priority proves the positive results are plentiful.

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