I recognize that the phrase 'parent involvement' is certainly inadequate when you truly think about the importance of the relationship between the family and the educators. First, the phrase signifies a one-way street rather than the partnership it is intended to be. Second, perhaps the word 'engagement' should be used to reflect the active roles that parents play at home and in the school. Finally, both parent and educator should be referenced in the title to describe the importance of a shared commitment to the student from both entities. In any case, the partnership between parents and educators toward advancing inclusive practices is a critical component in its success.
Not long ago, I was facilitating a discussion group composed of parents of students with disabilities. I asked the group to tell me in what ways their school could be more helpful and responsive to their needs as a parent. A mother of a middle school student suggested that "it would be wonderful if the schools would remember that I am first 'a parent' — not solely a parent of a child with disabilities. I am also interested in the things all parents are concerned with, such as information about the new school library, the soccer team tournament, and so on."
Wise words! So let's begin by looking at the standards for parent/family involvement published in 2002 by the National Parent Teacher Association. You can read about them in their entirely HERE.
When we study these six standards, it is clear that they are equally relevant for parents of students with and without disabilities.
As we look at the importance of the partnership between educators and parents of students with disabilities, we are fortunate that there are many resources and tools available. We have provided several on our website that we found helpful.
Frances Stetson, Ph.D.
President, Stetson & Associates, Inc.