Many times teachers and therapists get frustrated at the lack of communication from parents. Some find it extremely difficult to get parents - whom they really need to see - to attend meetings. At the same time parents often feel unsupported and that they are only contacted when there are problems. Some parents also feel that the school is too quick to blame parents when the child experiences difficulties.

Communication between parents, teachers andtherapists is vital because what happens at school will influence how the child acts at home, and what happens at home directly influences the child at school.  It is important that we as teachers and therapists remember that having a child with a disability is very tough for many parents. Many parents have additionalstresses: other children to look after, strain on family relationships, and a lack of support on top of the financial pressure of caring for a child with adisability (medication, assistive devices, therapy, doctor visits etc).

There are many ways that parents, teachers and therapists can communicate with each other. Ideally communication can happen face to face but in reality many parents are not able to drop off or collect their children from school due to work commitments. They may live far from school which results in their children being in school hostels, or making use of public or school transport to get to and from school. Communication can happen via telephone, but not all parents have phones or money / airtime to makecalls.

Another option is to have a communication book. This is cheap and goes into the child's school bag each day. Both parents and teachers/therapists can check each day to see whether there are any messages.

Creating a Communication Book.

Buy a small hard cover book

  • To make it special it can be covered in pretty wrapping paper or a child's drawing, or a photograph of the child pasted on the cover
  • Cover it in plastic in case a juice bottle leaks ora sandwich opens in the child's bag
  • Put the date in the margin and write short messages either daily or weekly.

Teachers and Therapists

Teachers and therapists should provide regular and positive messages: i.e. Thandi drew a beautiful picture of her family or Thandi told us a lovely story about her weekend today. In this way parents get to see whattheir child has done at school and it shows them that the teacher/therapist shows an interest in their child.

If you have to inform the parents of something negative use a  sandwich approach  where you say something positive, then raise the issue, and end with another positive.

Write about the problem behavior and not the child. Write 'We are trying to teach Sam that biting other children is not acceptable,'  rather than 'Sam was bad as he bit another child.'

Parents

Things that happen at home can influence your child's behavior, willingness to participate in activities etc at school. If the teacher / therapist knows the background they can be more sympathetic and understanding toward your child.

Write messages in your child's communication book to teachers and therapists about things that have happened or are going to happen, which you think might be important for the teacher to know. For example, 'Sabua's granny passed away on Saturday so he might be very sad' or 'Sabua's daddy is going away for a week.'

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