In the new term meeting with professionals working with your child is a priority. It can be very daunting, especially for parents whose children may have learning difficulties. Frequently, the professionals end up talking and the parents try desperately to follow the conversation and very often only pick up on the negative information. A small but interesting fact: it takes 9 or more positive remarks to cancel out the effects of a negative one. Sadly, many parents leave these meetings feeling overwhelmed and too often, disappointed.
Being prepared is one of the best steps one can take. Here are some questions to help you find out your child’s strengths, where their difficulties lie and how you can help your child. Hopefully, this will allow you to leave these meetings with ideas, empathy and positive information about your child and what you can do. Of course there will be areas of concern, but as a parent you will feel more confident in how to handle them.
- What does my child enjoy?
- Who are my child’s friends? How is he/she socially? Interactions and communication? Is she/he liked by her/his peers?
- What are my child’s strengths (socially, emotionally, physically and mentally)?
- What value does my child bring to the class/sessions?
- Are there areas in which my child shows a particular interest or possible talent?
- What are my child’s differences – instead of saying ‘problems’ or ‘difficulties’ – (socially, emotionally, physically and mentally)?
- Does my child participate? (This can mean anything from being a team leader, team player, active member, dedicated, diligent or a motivator. Remember, an extroverted and an introverted child will play different roles in these situations. What is important is that they are involved.)
- How is my child learning and functioning in a classroom environment or sessions (individual or group) – does their behaviour differ in different subjects (P.E, music, computers, languages, maths, etc.)?
- What will you be teaching my child? Areas of focus.
- How will you do this? What methods or approaches will you use? Can I implement these at home?
- Expectations (i.e. homework, tests and exams – time, assistance and outcomes)
- What type of homework will you give and what are the deadlines? (what is due daily/weekly or projects/exams/assessments)
- Is my child managing to complete the work (in class and homework)? Do they have the current abilities to work in class or in sessions effectively?
- How can I, as a parent, be involved and assist?
- How can I check up on grades, assignments? (Remember you are entitled to see ALL of your child’s work).
- Bring up your own concerns, observations and ask questions related to your child. Remember your child will be different in different environments. It is important to know about any major discrepancies.
- What is the best way and time to contact you (the teacher or professional)?
I hope with this information you and your child can gear yourselves for the forthcoming term. I suggest scheduling a meeting with your child’s teacher and other professionals as soon as possible.
I wish you all the best for your upcoming meetings.
About the author: Melissa Joyce van Hal (van Oordt) is an Enrichment and Support Learning Consultant and owner of the EDUHELP centre in Pinelands, where she works tirelessly to help children reach their full potential while acting as a guide and support for parents. Melissa can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or 076 609 9574. Also check out her website www.eduhelp.co.za and facebook page facebook.com/EduHelpSA