Teacher asking for advice from parents of children with SEN

(13 Posts)
Elise101 Sat 19-Jul-14 11:08:10

I am a teacher with a few years experience and I have taught lots of children with SEN before. Next year, there is a child in my class with Downs Syndrome. I have met the child and they seemed to enjoy the mini lesson we did.

Their mum is concerned about the change of class and teacher and has requested a meeting with me to discuss her child. I am looking forward to this as it will hopefully give me some information about extra help the child would need. I've been told that the mum is quite a worrier and I would like to put her mind at rest and reassure her she can trust me to give her child a good education, even though I am not as experienced as some other teachers.

What kind of things would you want to hear if you were meeting a teacher to tell them about your DC's special needs? I know she was happy with the previous teacher and may be unsure about someone new so I want to get off to a good start with her. Any advice or experiences would be helpful.

lougle Sat 19-Jul-14 11:13:19

I'd want you to communicate (and mean it) that you wouldn't see my child as 'x who has DS' but you'll see her as an individual with individual needs.

I'd want you to communicate (and mean it) that you would keep a dialogue going so we could work as a team.

I'd want you to ask me what matters to my DD, what motivates her, what her strengths and weaknesses are.

I'd want you to demonstrate that you'd read and understood her statement.

insanityscratching Sat 19-Jul-14 11:43:34

Great stuff from Lougle

I'd want you to acknowledge that my input as a parent was invaluable in getting the best from my dc. The best teachers ds and dd have had have been those who weren't too proud to ask for my insight.

I'd suggest a communication book and commit to writing in it daily an honest account of her dc's day. It's no good filling it with positives so there is no record of the difficulties and likewise it is soul destroying for the book to be filled in only when there is a problem. Learn to appreciate the value in having a parent who can pre warn you of potential problems because of poor sleep/ stuffy nose/ feeling under the weather etc.

Try not to dismiss the dm as a worrier, the chances are if she has concerns they are justified and her mind could be put to rest by your being open and communicative. In my experience I've only felt worried when I have felt that a teacher wasn't being honest with me or I felt that things were being kept from me

Elise101 Sat 19-Jul-14 11:49:56

I don't mean to 'dismiss' her as I worrier, I just mean that's what I've been told by staff who have previously worked with her. I can understand her concerns which is why I want to reassure and work together with her.

I think it will be fine as I already communicate well with the parents of the children in my class and I haven't had any problems previously. I have already spoken to the staff who work with the child so that I am already aware of most of the child's needs. Just wanted some reassurance as I would like this to go well.

insanityscratching Sat 19-Jul-14 12:43:20

I have experienced some truly brilliant teachers during dd and ds's school years. I've also experienced some not so brilliant. I think what I have learnt is not to judge the book by its cover. Ds had an NQT who was exceptional and the following year the SENCo in that school.
The SENCo was of the opinion that there was nothing I could tell her about ds and autism that she didn't already know. It took six weeks whilst ds ran amok (ASD and extreme challenging behaviour did mean he knew how to run amok pretty well) before she decided that maybe I had something to offer. The SENCo had spent six weeks trying to get ds to sit at a particular table but the minute his TA or the SENCo lost his attention he'd go to a particular chair and turf out whoever was sat on it. I walked over to the chair swapped it for the identical one the SENCo wanted him to sit on and swapped the identical pencil pots (his points of reference) and said he will immediately sit where you want him to now. Her face was a picture as he walked in from assembly and sat where she had wanted him to. From then we had a great relationship and ds benefited no end from us working together as a team.

Fuzzymum1 Sat 19-Jul-14 13:19:43

I would want you to accept that as a parent I know my child best. I had a few years of teachers assuming that because they had a lecture on ASD at uni they knew what my child needed.

vjg13 Sat 19-Jul-14 18:42:04

I would also want the TA that will support my child present at the meeting.

BlackeyedSusan Sat 19-Jul-14 22:51:56

the more you communicate the less she will worry, possibly.

you need to be open to the advice and insight the parents can give you.

been on both sides of the equation.

nonicknameseemsavailable Sat 19-Jul-14 22:55:19

I would probably hope for maybe having a meeting scheduled again for just after they start to check how things are going etc. that would provide some reassurance.

showing an interest and wanting to help is a HUGE part. nothing worse than a teacher assuming they know what will be said or that the child's problems are x y and z when actually they are d q and 12!

It sounds like you will be very supportive to me.

pinkerson Sun 20-Jul-14 11:02:51

I'd suggest a communication book and commit to writing in it daily an honest account of her dc's day.

That would be hard for a teacher with 30 kids in a class, surely.

insanityscratching Sun 20-Jul-14 11:21:37

Pinkerson Do you think so? I'd imagine the child will have a statement and a TA assigned to them for at least a part of the day. Dd's TA or teacher write in her communication book every day, as do I. It takes minutes but saves no end of effort in the long run. Her teacher may want dd to bring an item to school, if it's not written down dd won't remember and then may be upset and the teacher would try and source a spare a note in her book means no further effort.
I can write dd is very anxious about........ which means her TA is prepared from the off rather than being faced with resistance seemingly out of the blue.
I'm not suggesting that a teacher should commit to doing the same for 30 pupils but a communication book for a child with a statement is highly effective at both easing a parents anxiety, providing a confidential link between home and school and saving a teacher time in the long run.

Muddlewitch Sun 20-Jul-14 11:42:31

Reassure her you are on the same team with the joint objective of getting the best for her dd.

That makes a real difference - we had a huge battle to get DS1 a statement and a special school place. It took years. His teacher this year has been amazing it's been the first time ever I have felt supported and like we were really working together, and that she genuinely cares about his well being. His progress has been amazing thanks to her, and the TA. (Very sad he only has three days left in that class!)

Also, ask her about the little girl, her personality and interests rather than just her SN, the Mum will appreciate you seeing her as a person rather than a statement. It really makes a difference.

You sound like great teacher, I am sure it will be fine. If only they all put as much thought into it as you seem to be. smile

insanityscratching Sun 20-Jul-14 13:31:48

Should add that communication between home and school is a requirement of dd's statement as it is recognised that it is key to dd's success in school and none of her teachers have found it too difficult to make sure that there is good communication between the two of us.

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