Meeting with professionals, who work with your child, is a priority. It can be very daunting, especially for parents whose children have 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 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 the 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. Of course, there will be areas of concern but as a parent you will feel more confident in how to handle them.
1. What does my child enjoy?
2. Who are my child’s friends? How is she/he socially? Interactions and communication? Is she/he liked by her/his peers?
3. What are my child’s strengths (socially, emotionally, physically and mentally)?
4. What value does my child bring to the class/sessions?
5. Are there areas in which my child shows a particular interest or possible talent?
6. What are my child’s differences (socially, emotionally, physically and mentally)?
– instead of saying ‘problems’
7. Does my child participate? (This can mean anything from being a team leader, team player, active team member, dedicated, helpful, 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.)
8. How is my child learning and functioning in a classroom environment or sessions (individual and/or group)? Does their behaviour differ in different subjects (Physical Education, Music, Computers, languages, Maths etc.)?
9. What will you be teaching my child? Areas of focus.
10. How will you do this? What methods or approaches will you use? Can I implement these at home?
11. Expectations (i.e. homework, tests and exams – time, assistance and outcomes)
12. What type of homework will you give and what are the deadlines? (What is due daily/weekly or what is required for projects/exams/assessments)
13. Is my child managing to complete the work (in class as well as homework)? Do they have the current abilities to work in class or in sessions effectively?
14. How can I, as a parent, be involved or assist?
15. How can I check up on grades and all classwork (tests, assessments, etc.)? Remember you are entitled to see ALL of your child’s work.
16. 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.
17. What is the best way and time to contact you (teacher and/or professional)?
I hope with this information you and your child can gear yourselves for each term and year. I suggest scheduling a meeting with your child’s teacher and other professionals as soon as possible.