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Please could you all advise and give you expertise advice on starting a parents support group? thank you(18 Posts)
At my DD SN school, they ahve a parent support group run by one of the teachers, but no one really goes to it.
Which is where I come in!
I am going to do a letter to the parents, to let them know I will be running a coffee morning? coffee break? (any idea's for a name?) 1 morning a week
It will just be us parents, no Teacher! Just having a cuppa , chat, moan ! to other parents that understand
I want it to be really informal, but if we do get people in, to maybe have the odd person come along to chat to us ... (DP's, Relaxation, deal with stress, kids behaviour ect etc)
But how do I get the parents in? I know I need support and would love to have other parents to chat with. It is not just going to be for the parents of this school, they can bring friends along, as long as they have a child with a disability
so this is where you help me?.......................
1. What would get you to come along?
2. what would stop you from coming along?
3. what could I put in the letter to make you come along?!!
4. any idea's what I shall call it? Was going to call it "Coffee Break"??? or is no name needed and just refer to it as a coffee morning? but does that sound a bit old womanish?!!
Thanks so much for any advice, this is something I have never done before and want to do it properly and enable parents to get the support they need
there was a thread yesterday a bit like this mumsnet.com/Talk/special_needs/705395-Parent-support-in-special-schools
got to go now as its our golden hour(!) but can pop back later and answer you properly
We did one a while ago at Ds school, we ended up calling it Greenfold Parent Support Group! Very boring i know. It ended up being the same few parents turning up every week-it started really well with between 5-15 parent/carers but the dwindled to the same 2 or 3 every week. We had talks from Cerebra-anything about funding or money seemed to bring in the crowds!! A couple of times we had pamper sessions etc which were also popular-try your local college-hand/head massage for carers etc. Good luck setting it up-I enjoyed going to the busier sessions.
thanks so much
wonder why parents dont go to them?
I used to go to SN toy library before DD went to school. Loved being with all the other parents, we had a great time
I really missed it when DD started school and hoped this woul be somethign for the parents to go on to from the toy lib
Another thing ...How often should I do it? weekly?
maybe weekly might be a bit too much cos it comes round quite quick. Monthly? Then again, if its a bigger school and you have more people to pool from it might be nice more frequent as different people could drop by as it suits them. Would be easier to remember and seem less formal perhaps that way.
We do ours every 6 weeks. Notes go out in student's diaries a bit in advance
Hope it all goes well.
I hunted around our local area and eventually found a SN support group, but only went a couple of times. tbh I found the experience so depressing I haven't been back. I think for me it was that a couple of people at each dominated the session, and because they'd had bad experiences they were very negative in general towards schools, the system, other parents and everything. I'd gone for some support but ended up coming away in tears, after being warned by one of them that ds wouldn't have friends at school and wouldn't get birthday party invites. Honestly!
I think it would have been much better if someone could have facilitated and somehow steered the topic away to something else, or encouraged others to share their concerns to stop the session being dominated. I don't feel I got chance to speak there, just listened to others.
This is just my experience though, and I'm sure they can be wonderful if run well. I'd think a weekly one would enable people to drop in, and to get to know each other really well.
This one may be just me as I am a bit of a socially awkward type, but the words 'coffee' and 'chat' fill me with dread and I would never attend a group where that was the sole purpose.
I would prefer structure i.e. talk from healthcare professional, appropriate charity (even if not appropriate to me IYKWIM) general access to information etc.
If this was then followed by a cuppa, that'd be fine. Or if 1 week a month was just a cuppa and chat, that'd be OK too (I prob wouldn't go )
Could you ask in your letter to parents, what they want, and why they don't go (yet!)?
Just one more thought - you may be the answer!
I would be far more likely to attend a group run by another parent who knows, rather than one by a teacher, no matter how proffessional, wonderful, caring, considerate and undertanding they are, its just not the same.
I agree with feelingbetter, a parent led one would be ideal.
However, I would go for the coffee and chat rather than the other bit!
Great that you want to start a support group - just one parent having the balls to do it can start something really good going. I haven't quite found my balls yet (!) but I'd like to do something similar.
Kettlechip's experience is familiar - are you strong enough to help people express themselves without all those raw emotions hijacking the group (including those who sit in furious, stony silence which can be just as uncomfortable and encourage others to blather on recklessly)?
Can you put your phone number/email on the initial letter and be available to talk to people before they turn up? This could help break the ice, prepare parents better and give you a better idea of how many parents are going to turn up?
I'd go to something if there was a focus - e.g. training/speaker, then coffee and a chat. I would be a bit daunted about walking into a group of strangers with no structure or plan. Can you run it from somewhere other than school, e.g a nice, central coffee shop with a quiet area?
What was it that made your toy library work and your staff-run support group fail? There may be good lessons from those two different experiences.
I was hoping that if there was an ok number 7 ish that you dont have to have one conversations
Hopefully people would just be chatting, maybe having different conversations
Maybe !!! lol
People dont even have to discuss their child!!
when we used to go to the SN toy library of course we disscussed our kids, but also gossiped about everything else!
Toy Library was fab as your kids went in the play room and we went in the coffee rom (most weeks) You could get speech therapy there, advice there , loan things ect
I went to the parent support group a few times and we all sat round a table like at a board meeting, The first thing I would do is get rid of the tables (dont know where!!) and just have a semi circle of chairs
I would like to have people in to give talks, but only when I know we have a handful of regulars!
Just dont know now! I am just worried that no one will turn up!
I am hoping my friend will come along, another Mum I know said she will come and hopefully another I know , so could have 4!!!!! lol
Hoping opening it to other parents may help numbers (not just from the school)?
Thanks for the advice, Much appreciated
What about making it accessible for other Mums of pre-school children (like me!)? If you can cope/have facilities for babes and toddlers.
I think the early years are very isolating.
we found that when our sessions had some sort of carrot - ie woman coming in to talk about free flexible training in whatever - more people came along than when it was just a chatty session.
Agree with other suggestions about asking other parents what they want. Is there any school event coming up at all? We had a little stall at xmas fayre and we found that a good way of guaging interest.
Agree with fb that it could be useful in opening the group out to parents of pre schoolers. Often this is the most isolating time. However - would make it more likely that you would have children there. Mind you - you'll prolly get small children coming anyway as sure lots of the school age children have younger siblings
I think in anything you set up, its not going to be all things to all people. Also think it takes a bit of time for word to get round / people to feel comfortable with it so perhaps give it a bash and give it a bit of time - ie don't be too despondent if it doesn't take off straight away. Also we found running them in winter was less successful generally - people seemed more willing to come out in better weather
More good luck vibes
I forgot to mention, there's information on the Contact-a-family about starting a group including how to keep it going once it's started.
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