What Parents Can Do to Build and Nurture Relationships with School Personnel

Reprinted with permission from Visually Impaired Preschool Services (VIPS) and from the Kentucky School for the Blind
by Pauletta Feldman and Mary Ann Reynolds (1996)
  1. Start early getting to know all the people who will eventually be in a position to serve your child. Network! Start sharing your dreams and let them get to know your child. Then, when you are in a position to work together, there is a good basis for open communication and teamwork. There aren’t a lot of surprises for school personnel and they have advance time for planning programs to meet your child’s needs.
  2. Recognize that school personnel are people too. Good educational outcomes for your child are not just dependent on you knowing your child’s educational rights but also on you practicing good people skills.
  3. Be willing to negotiate and make compromises or tradeoffs. Realize that the tradeoffs you make today can be made up for by different program options in the future.
  4. Be open and listen. Don’t carry a chip on your shoulder until someone puts one there. Try to remember that each new situation brings opportunities to start fresh. Don’t assume that you’re always going to have to fight.
  5. Offer to help. Be a creative problem solver. Your enthusiasm and willingness can motivate and assist schools to develop programs that might not be possible or might not have been envisioned without your support.
  6. When teachers/administrators have reservations or are resistant to your wants for your child, don’t automatically become demanding. Take the role of educator and help them understand why you want what you do. You may have thought of objectives for your child and ways of meeting them that they haven’t.
  7. Give positive feedback and support to the people involved with your child. Everyone needs a pat on the back for the things he or she is doing right. When a problem or complaint arises, seek a solution at the source. Going behind someone’s back to deal with a problem can damage trust. Go through the appropriate procedures and steps in the chain of command in solving problems.
  8. Be committed to the choices you make and realize that you play a major role in their success.
  9. Understand that building good relationships takes time. Things may not fall into place immediately. Patience can pay off as long as there is consistent progress. Mutually supportive relationships with teachers/ administrators will lead to superior outcomes for your child and you; relationships strained by excessive demands by parents won’t reap the benefits of true teamwork, even though you may technically get everything you want for your child.
  10. If relationships break down, don’t involve your child in your battles. He or she has to spend all day, everyday in the problem situation. Support your child, offer strategies for dealing with the problem situation, and let him/her know that you are working to correct it. Do your fighting behind the scenes. Leave your child out of it.
 

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