With children spending on average 6 hours a day at school, it’s important that we feel confident with the hands they are in during that time. As a parent you want to know that they are safe, accepted, nurtured, listened to and learning when at school; an extension of the efforts you put in as a parent at home. Having confidence in the school your child is at will mean your stress levels are reduced and your child’s learning will accelerate. Forming a good home – school relationship is a crucial part this, here’s how:
1. An effective home – school communication system needs to be established as the most effective way to continually update progress and obstacles for child at home and child at school. There are various systems that can be used and if the school doesn’t have a preferred system in place already or it is not working then you may like to suggest or implement one of the following: email, communication book, feedback template sheet, phone calls, meetings etc. There needs to be something that communicates back and forth how the child is doing, the medium doesn’t matter as long as it works!
2. Consistency is key – once a system has been found setting expectations of frequency and detail will help the consistency. Be realistic - as much as you might want to, you can’t know every single detail so expect the highlights.
3. Sensitivity – be mindful that whatever system is used, if it is read or heard by the child will it have an impact on their mood and self-esteem – choose words carefully and consider where it is kept so as not to offend. If you can be honest and open about it then do.
4. Two way – the purpose of it is to communicate both ways, you cannot expect only school to write in it with no response / feedback from home and vice versa, it needs to be a two-way system.
5. Content – include both what is working well and what is not working so well and what needs to be done differently and work jointly on it.
6. Position – both school professionals and parents need to be treated with respect for knowledge and understanding that everyone understands autism/ your child at a different pace and being helpful is the best option rather than critical. You are of course the expert in your child and staff may have other learning or understanding that can contribute to progression. Say what is working for you at home with the hope/ suggestion it could be used at school. Say what you are struggling with at home with the hope/ expectation that school will be able to help work on it together. The relationship works best when it’s a mutual collaboration rather than a one-sided know-all!
7. Discussions – school staff typically do not have time for lots of meetings about one child, that said sometimes it is important to arrange a time to discuss something with staff if it is important and tricky to get in written form.
8. Education, awareness, understanding – this is the key to making progress, supporting school staff to learn more and understand can really help them help your child and communicate to you better. Improving your own education and understanding in this area can help you to help your child. Working together can make a difference in your relationship with school.
If you would like help with supporting your child at school, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a time to discuss how I can help you with options of school observations & reports, school training and family support.