For a special need child who can be autistic or having a severe speech delay ( just like Stony ) or having behavior issues, sensory issues, emotional outbursts etc. it is extremely important to help to make a strong link between school and home.
What makes us not easy is that these children mentally and emotionally tend to isolate school and home from each other. They consider these two places like two different lives. They do not really talk about school at home and do not talk about home in school.
Stony used to come home and talking NOTHING about school. For days. For weeks. For months.
When I have asked he was just laughing like somebody who has a secret and sometimes he has made me stop firmly.
I have tried lot’s of different approaches but with not a real success.
We have ended up on feeling that our child is a secret agent. We ended up feeling hopeless and isolated from him.
Yes a photo about his classmates would have been an important link. But we can not get it.
In order to help our child to develop properly and integrate in school it is very important for the parents to have the sufficient communication and interaction with the child’s school and also having a strong conception and idea about the child’s life and environment there.
I think it is even more important when we talk about a special need child who tends not to share his school experiences and emotions at home. Often these kids are not even able to tell their stories/incidents in school and unable to share and explain what have made them cry or laugh. In many cases even if they have the emotional urge to share something with mom or dad but they are unable to do it mentally.
It is also crucial for us to know more about our child’s school life. Let’s say an unexpected meltdown happens at home we want to know what was the real source? Was it an incident in school what has made our child upset? Why our child is so sensitive this afternoon? Or is he going to be sick, do I have to worry?…
So many reasons explain why it is so important to understand and know our special need child and to always strive to know more about their inside world.
So I thought it would be a good idea and helpful for other parents to share our “tricks” what have helped Stony and helped us on integrating school and home and started to make changes.
It was a team work with the school for what we are so thankful.
These “tricks” have worked for us and has brought significant changes as Stony is much more open about school at home, talks and shares more about his stories and feelings toward school.
And of course we as parents have got a tiny peeping-window to Stony’s life in school what makes us much more happy and close to our son. Also it makes us to be much more understanding and aware when is about sensitive afternoons or unexplained outbursts.
I hope I can help with these to others and at least give some simple ideas to try.
We have been working together with Stony’s school to work out these alternatives what we find as excellent options.
As a result of these Stony talks much more about school so we know much more about his “secret agent” life in school :), also we can relate his heavy afternoons and help him..and in overall we all feel more happy! 🙂
Hereunder please find my ‘tip list’ I recommend to integrate home and school and what have worked for us so far:
1. A TALKING TOPIC NOTEBOOK
I find this, one of the best idea what has made wonders for us!
This is a simple notebook what we keep in Stony’s backpack. Every end of the day I write in the notebook 2 to 3 things what have happened to Stony at that afternoon. The next day the teachers will read it and talk about them with Stony. In this way the teacher can lead the conversation as he gets some clues from me in the notebook. Meantime Stony talks about his home “life” for his teachers.
Also when Stony comes home every day his teacher writes some lines for me about what have happened with Stony at school that day. In this way I can start the conversation with Stony referring to the happenings what the teacher wrote for me in the notebook.
1. I write in the notebook the next: ..I have had a great walking and picnic with my family at the nearby forest.
2. The teacher reads and asks related questions from Stony. ( What was the weather like, what did you have for picnic? was it a long walk?.. did you collect leaves? etc.
1.Teacher writes to me: Today I chose a song during music time and I danced to the words!
2. Mom reads and can ask certain questions: How was the music like? How did you dance Stony? Did your teachers like it?
I have found the Talking Topic Notebook very effective!
You can also glue in family photos -or whatever- for the teachers to talk about with Stony.
This is fun, very effective and easy to handle and comply with every day! 🙂
I attach some pictures about this our Talking Topic Notebook for you just to give you an idea:
2. Use the amazing SEESAW app.
My other big favorite!!! I love this app!
This was the great idea of Stony’s beloved teacher ( Mr Pi ) and I am so happy about us using this!
Seesaw is a digital portfolio that empowers students/teachers to independently document what they are learning/teaching at school. Students can use photos, videos, drawings, text notes, links to show what they now. When student or teacher add to their Seesaw journal, content is uploaded, organized by student/teacher and immediately accessible to a teacher or parent from any advice.
It also serves as a message board between parents and teachers 🙂
This app means a tiny window for us to Stony’s world in school. It means so much to us. Very easy to use and manage!
You can introduce this app to your child’s teachers and school. Tell and explain them how and why it would mean so much to you and to your chid. It is so easy to use I think they will really love it!
Here are some photos about Stony what I have got from his teachers on this app. This is amazing that I am able to peep inside his days by the help of this SeeSaw app!
With Stony we can also use these pictures as a perfect talking topics about school in the afternoons 🙂
Also..as we tend to be constantly worried for our special need kiddos and when I get the pictures on my phone during the day it makes me so much peaceful and happy about Stony. It reassures me he is in a good place feeling well and happy.
3. Find the perfect time!
Try to find the best time when your child is open and calmed enough for a talk with you.
I have found this -apparently- simple thing very important when is about special need kids.
Stony also has his own quiet peaceful times when I know I can approach him and he will be open and he will talk and share his thoughts with me.
For Stony one of the best time to talk is the bath time.
I put him to the bath leave him there for a while than I go back. The hot water makes him happy, calmed and placid.
I can much easier start a conversation with him about school and ask questions. He first talks very few but as our conversation gets along he opens more and more.
The most important is to find the good time and be very patient revealing the conversation.
One of Stony’s favorite afternoon activity at home is taking a big bath! :
4. Clarify and be aware about what YOU CAN DO – by law -!
Despite the fact our contact with our child’s class has to be limited ( by law) BUT ! still we can share and participate a lot with our child in his school.
Here are some ideas what YES! YOU CAN DO!
– You can volunteer at the special class field trips!
– You can volunteer at the special class parties!
– If your child is in inclusion with a mainstream class you can always go/participate and freely take pictures on their events!
– You can go and eat lunch with your child! ( in our school at least we have the opportunity to join to you kids and eat lunch with them at a special corner of their cafeteria. I find this as a perfect integration possibility to your child’s school life.
– Search and find the ways about how and when you can volunteer and be a part of your child’s class and school activities. Ask the school or call a -free- parent advocate who can help you to clarify your rights.
Hope I have helped for those of you a bit whom struggle with the same issues in school…
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..and do not forget to write your comments or ideas on this topic!