SEND teachers – talk to your parents!
September 5 2021
A few minutes makes a difference; listening and talking to parent’s of special needs children.
Kaydene Wood is an early childhood special education teacher in Jamaica and a Special Needs Family Coach. Here she talks about why it is so important to listen to the parents of special needs children.
Some parents come early in the mornings, sit with me and pour out their pain. The relationship issues, the financial problems, the frustration dealing with the system, the issues with the child, the issues they may have with even me. All these sometimes seem too much to bear. I see frustration giving way to tears and disappointment. Over time this turns to anger and there is still no solution to the problem. Or the solution came after a long haul and parents just don’t think they can fight again. Many parents of special needs children face these emotions daily. There are victories and disappointments.
A quote written centuries ago states, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick”. As a special education teacher, I often have to sit and talk with parents who had their hopes deferred, not just for one week, but for years. During these times, I try to take time to listen, cast no judgment and brainstorm with them to find a solution if I can. Most importantly, I try to give hope.
During the pandemic I have come to appreciate the incomprehensible power of hope. I understand that it needs not only to be nurtured but to be fought for. Hope is the key to our survival. As a special education teacher, I have come to admire the strong sense of hope and courage that my parents transfer to the hearts of their children. I see that hope in the child that runs and plays despite their twisted leg, and in the child who sings out popular tunes despite none understanding the words that are coming from their mouths. I see hope in my students when their parent drops them off at school and they sit eagerly for class to begin; and sometimes I am jealous of it.
Talking hope into action
One of the things I have learnt through my life is that words build hope. That is why it is important to talk your hope into action. As a teacher I used to avoid the extra chatter with parents, but after intentionally tuning in, morning chats with my parents became different.
I am most grateful when I see a smile and I hear, “thank you miss, it was nice talking to you” or, “I will try that and see how it works”. Such positive affirmations, allow me to believe that hope was once again inspired, not only for a family, but also for me.
Happy parents, happy pupils, happy teacher!
I find that my work as a teacher is easier when my parents and students are happier. I know I can’t talk every suggestion into reality, but just the fact that I was there as a listening ear, was joy enough for me. There are times however when I realize that my parents talk sessions need to be extended to others. Therefore, I may suggest that they talk to other parents , a behaviour therapist, a counsellor or an advocate. These persons can often provide more reassurance, insights and positive solutions in complicated situations. Most importantly, I always encourage my parents to never stop searching for the solution.
Seeing how much talking and words can inspire hope, I am now an advocate for allowing special needs parents to talk. I believe that joining a support group or sharing with a friend or a listen to ear who is understanding and positive is important. Let nothing let your hope die, it’s one of the basic tools we have to manoeuvre the challenges of life.
Working with parents of children with special needs?
Try the WeCanAccess toolkit here on how to work with parents . A recent reviewer said “Just completed this training! It taught me a lot and I think it will be very useful for schools. This area is often not thought about enough!“
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