Back to school … three favorite words of parents everywhere. Supply list … two dreaded words that find parents combing the aisles in search of that one color of folder that doesn’t exist. Yet in that long list of pencils, pens and folders, the most important supply is missing … the strategies, interventions and background information on your child that you will SUPPLY your child’s teacher with.
As an elementary school teacher, I spend the first four weeks of school trying to figure out my students’ triggers and the best approach to use with them. I have already met with four families of students who are significantly struggling early on. Each meeting was very productive and ended with a plan in place based on what they shared with me. Yet, it also left me wondering why this meeting didn’t happen before the issues and struggles began.
As a parent, every year I meet with the teachers of two of my children who have special needs. It’s not a meeting called by the school, but by a mom who wants to share her family’s journey. I honor my child’s teacher with their back story because I want her to know what they have overcome, and how hard we have worked to get where we are. These children are biological or adopted so I am not breaking any confidentiality by sharing their story. In the past I have had the same meeting with teachers when I was fostering the children, but I simply left out details of the past and focused on their current triggers or interventions.
By sharing the strategies, interventions or words/phrases you use at home, you can make your child’s transition to a new teacher and classroom much more successful. Your child can feel comforted when the teacher says the same words mom or dad do at home. Your child can feel like the teacher “gets it” when they use the same intervention to help them overcome something.
A strong foundation built on healthy relationships
In my own classroom, I spend September and October focusing on building relationships with my students and their families. Without a strong foundation built on healthy relationships, the struggles seem to continue and magnify all year long. As a parent, I take the lead in building strong relationships with my children’s teachers, knowing it will pay off tenfold as the year goes on.
If you are not fully comfortable sharing your child’s whole story, then find the part(s) you can share. Shed some light on the where, when or why certain behaviors may arise for your child. Find someone in the building, if it’s not the teacher, who can handle this information correctly. It may be the principal, guidance counselor, school psychologist or school social worker. Share some of the books you have read that contain techniques that work with your child.
I know my children are so much more than their past and what happened to them. Yet, as a teacher, I know that my heart is filled with appreciation when a family trusts me enough to share their story, and include me in the story moving forward!
– Betsy DuKatz, adoptive parent and prior foster parent
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Community Services recruits, trains and provides support services for foster families. The need for foster parents in Wisconsin is great. Contact us to receive information about becoming a foster or adoptive parent, or visit our website to learn more.