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Supporting your child's learning

Mother and daughterParents and caregivers play a major role in working with school staff to develop educational programs for their child. It is important that you take the opportunity to contribute at all stages of your child's education although you can choose if and how you would like to be involved.

You might ask, "What could a parent possibly offer trained teaching staff?" The answer is that you can make a significant contribution. You know your child better than anyone. You spend more time and have the opportunity to observe your child in a greater variety of situation than any doctor, teacher, psychologist, counsellor or therapist. Your views about your child's development are vital.

Even before your child enters school you have had years of experience as your child's first teacher. Prior to school entry, many of the skills a child has developed since birth have been taught by parents or caregivers. You will be the most consistent teacher of your child as school teachers will come and go. You are a valued and essential member of the educational team.

Develop a partnership with the school

Parents or caregivers are encouraged to participate at all stages of their child's education. This participation can occur in a variety of ways. As you prepare for your child's transition to school from the early childhood setting, you can be a member of your child's early learning support team.

After your child has enrolled at school you can continue your involvement by being part of your child's learning support team. This team with support your child's transition to high school and the workplace.

As for all parents or caregivers, you may choose to be further involved in the school community by participating in the classroom or with school outings or by attending special events.

Obtain information

It is important for you to obtain information that will help you work with teachers when planning for the educational needs of your child. Like all decisions in life, educational decisions are best made with all the necessary information. Talk with teachers, doctors, therapists, other parents, anyone who can assist you in providing information about the development of an appropriate educational program for your child. If you do not understand the information, ask that it be explained to you.

Community organisations and parent networks may also provide you with information, advice and support regarding the educational needs of your child.

Publications of the different education departments such as policy statements, and curriculum and support documents, and publications by other organisations may also assist you to support your child's learning. You can also access information on the Internet.

Obtain support

The extent to which students can be involved in reviewing and planning their programs will depend on their age, level of maturity and communication skills.

You may decide to use an advocate to help you in planning for your child. An advocate promotes, supports and represents your rights and interests. An advocate actively supports you in ensuring your child's special learning needs are identified. The advocate should have knowledge and an understanding of the educational needs of your child. The advocate may be a family friend, a person who is recommended by a parent support group, or a person who has provided advocacy services for another family.

An advocate can attend meetings with you and provide whatever support is required. Ideally you should discuss meeting procedures, information required and your goals for your child with the advocate before going to a meeting. The school should be informed in advance if an advocate is to attend a meeting with the parents or caregivers.

You may choose to take along a support person to meetings. A support person could be a family friend or relative who will listen and/or make notes on the discussion that takes place during the meeting.

Supporting your child's learning

Many of the skills taught at school are skills that improve the quality of life for your child and help develop independence. The opportunity to practice these skills occurs naturally at home and in the community. By becoming part of the team that develops the educational plan for your child, you will be in a better position to support your child's learning. Ask the principal, the class teacher or support teachers how you can help your child's learning at home. This may simply involve talking to your child, listening to your child read or helping with a project. Children learn best when parents, caregivers and teachers work together in partnership, and when parents, caregivers and teachers share this responsibility.


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Information supplied by:
NSW Department of Education & Communities Disability Programs

Extract from "Who's Going to Teach my Child - a guide for parents of children with special learning needs."
NSW Department of Education and Training, 1999.

Reproduced with permission.

10-Nov-2015 5:22 AM (AEST)