To embrace inclusion work with families of students with LD and ADHD
Another critical aspect of inclusion and working with learners with disabilities and ADHD is to work closely with their families. To ensure holistic development and success for each child, educators need to be in tune with the family. Here are some things to keep in mind to have a positive relationship with the parents or guardians and ensure inclusion:
Building a positive relationship
- When the school year starts, spend time with students and their families to get to know them, as much as you can. Knowing details about the number of family members, who are available with the student at home, professional background of the parents/guardians and so on will help educators learn about the student’s home and family situation and aid their efforts towards inclusion. Family questionnaires are useful tools for this purpose.
- Ideally, educators should meet with the parents in the early part of the school year, and get to know their perspective regarding their child. It helps to form a relationship early on and builds trust to work together for inclusion and the student’s success.
Communicating with the parent
- At the start of the year, introduce yourself to the parents, share with them what your subject/course entails and what the requirements/expectations are. Some schools have events or Parent Teacher Meetings for this, and others may do so via email or circulars.
- As per the school’s protocol, share your contact details with the parents and let them know how and when they can get in touch with you and set up a meeting when needed.
Meeting with the parent
- Inform the parents about the Individual Educational Plan (IEP) meetings in advance. Draft the IEPs in collaboration with the parents, and communicate every significant decision regarding the student’s goals and progress with the parents regularly.
- When meeting with the parents, begin with highlighting their child’s positive aspects. Talk about their strengths, areas they are showing progress in, their interests at school and so on. Refrain from starting a meeting on a negative note. If pointing out areas of growth or weaknesses, try to provide solutions and talk about the areas that teachers/school are working on.
- Seek the parents’ inputs as well. Ask them what they hope for their child’s future, what qualities and skills do they want their child to learn. Make them a partner in the student’s education.
Working with the parents toward inclusion
- Reinforcement of concepts at home is valuable, especially for those with learning difficulties. Therefore, it is crucial to communicate the work done in the mainstream classroom and the special educator with the parent. Ideally, parents must practise the same concepts, ideas and tools at home as well.
- Develop a system to communicate the classwork, homework, details of assignments and assessments regularly with the parents.
- If you notice concerns in a particular area- be it academic, social-emotional or behavioural, do get in touch with the parent, obtain more information and make them aware of the concerns. Share/discuss strategies that work in the classroom and those that work at home.
- Try to understand their perspective and empathise with them. It is possible parents may have had negative experiences with schools or teachers previously, and therefore it is crucial to know where they are coming from.
Working with all families toward inclusion
To be truly embrace inclusion, sensitise the entire parent community about inclusion and the needs of students with disabilities. Children often pick up on their parents’ attitudes. If the parents are not inclusive by nature or have negative attitudes toward those with disabilities, chances are, so will their child.
Here are some steps you can take:
- Workshops: Ensure that you hold meetings or workshops with parents to talk about the diverse learning needs of the student community. Tell them that some students may need more support and how their children could be helpful and sensitive peers to those with disabilities.
- Awareness: Make them aware of the concept and benefits of inclusive education. Inclusive education has academic and social and emotional benefits for not only those with disabilities but for those without disabilities as well. Inclusive education improves the professional capacity of educators and makes more robust school systems.
- Appropriate vocabulary: Ask them not to use terms such as ‘abnormal’ ‘special child’ ‘slow learner’ ‘dyslexic’ ‘disabled’ in front of their children to refer to those with disabilities. Encourage the idea of inclusion and that all students are special and different and possess their unique set of talents, strengths and weaknesses.