- Creating friendships is important. If we hear the teacher say that our child is working well with another student, we need to ask if this is merely work-related, or if it is a blossoming friendship. We can foster this at home. If there are no friendships, we need to ask the teacher to partner up our child with someone who may appreciate our child as a potential friend.
- We know the value of acceptance. However, we hope that the teacher will throw in the occasional mini-lessons to address the fact (when it comes up). Let’s be sure to mention this.
- If the teachers have not had experience with our child’s particular Differing Ability, put the teachers at ease. We can give a quick description of our child’s abilities and limitations before the school year starts. Or, even better, before the end of the previous school year… if the school will let us know our child’s teacher for next year. Then, the teacher can adjust their classroom to suit.
- Language is important. How something is said, is just as important as what is said.
- Allow for movement. The classroom might have to be adjusted and rules made more flexible. A good example is allowing for our child to stand up every so often, even though the classroom rule in prior years was to stay seated for the entire period.
- Shortened and Posted directions for assignments.
The Hard Part:
- When we explain the ins and outs of our child’s abilities, we must use the positive language that you want the teacher to use in the classroom. Whatever we say and how you say it will be the foundations of your teacher’s experience with this.
- Making and keeping friends might need a friendly push from us. Contacting a family for a hang-out/play-date is hard, but sometimes necessary. For social circles to expand, it must start somewhere.
- The teacher will be making adjustments for Our Child. We need to appreciate that this may be out of his/her normal comfort zone. We need to be patient and appreciative.
Have you considered these tips and tricks?:
- Please allow the movement and rocking and random staring to happen. Our child is wonderfully different and might still be paying attention.
- Almost every single time, taking away recess will not help (even to catch up). Honestly, it will take away the one thing that will make things better. Taking away my child’s artistic and physical educational needs, will only stifle him/her more. Can you imagine if you were not allowed a break to stretch or walk or smile? If our child needs extra time, consider reducing the assignment to make room for my child to be a kid. We will find the time to make up everything else.
- Keep directions short and on the board. It will help all your students, by the way. Who else wasn’t listening at that moment?
- Ask my child: What do you need right now to complete the assignment.? Can you tell me what you plan on doing first/next? (Not the next 8 steps – that is too much)
- Saying “Try harder” is touchy. My child may already be trying as hard as he/she is able at the moment. All we ask is that you keep that thought in mind.
- Instead of slowing things down, perhaps you can give time to transition?. A “heads up” before moving to something new helps. This can be private (if my child is far behind), or to the whole class who will appreciate knowing what to expect next.