Making life better in disadvantaged communities - our thoughts on everything - from Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc.
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In the Young Children & Disability workshop this morning at Lake Region we discussed why parents don't get involved in the IFSP, IEP or whatever parent meeting or plan. Some of the reasons we discussed were
Thinking the professionals were going to do it for them, all the speech therapists, physical therapists and special ed teachers. Parents can sort of forget that they are the primary care giver and 20 therapists cannot replace the parent.
Too busy - parents have jobs, other kids, groceries to buy.
Too lazy - face facts, not everyone is a good parent. Some parents just don't want to be bothered. Most of us have people like that within our own extended families.
Intimidated by teachers - think the teachers know way more than they do or the teachers don't make them feel welcome at school
Feel like a bad parent - feel as if the school is going to tell them all the things they are doing wrong as a parent, feel as if they somehow should know what to do with their child
It's depressing - they don't want to hear all the problems their child is having and they are afraid that they may be told even worse news such as that their child will never be able to learn - the fact is that schools almost never say such things, but sometimes you have a bad experience or bad teacher and it makes you not want to come back
What about those schools who should be going beyond the call of duty. Especially, when it comes to those disabled students. Many of whom cannot speak up for themselves. I know many times the professionals response to doing more for the student is something like this, "I have too many students to have to do all that for 1 student". In fact, if the professional just spent a little more time doing the Right Things in the first place for the student, issues such as: Lack of parent involvement in their child's education would be seen more as part of the system and is required by the school for the student to graduate. Mainly, School, community and parent all need to know the schools Special Education process and support each step as the student goes through the school system. In conclusion, the professionals who are working in this type of system must truly want to be in this type of work setting and appreciate helping the students. Not only to get them through the system, but to have some follow up after high school.
Willie is right. The Schools always want to blame the parents but if you go to the school and all they ever tell you is no, no, no, no. Your chidl can't have this because there is no budget. Your child doesnt qualify for year-round school. Then after that they want you to come down when the school needs it and they send home those notes about how important you are to your childs education. When you ask for something then you aren't so important all of a sudden.
So many reasons for this ... my mom works in a resource class. Basically, the main reasons are too busy and language barriers. Life these days is programmed so that parents don't have a chance to breathe - stressful demands of work, keeping up the house, also some parents may be single parents and have even less time than others. It is all they can do to pick their kids up from school, make dinner, and put them to bed. Language is also a reason - there are translators available, but some parents aren't aware of this, or are too embarrassed to ask for one.
I think you are right. It is past 11 pm, my daughter is asleep and I am just finishing work. When all four of my kids were at home it just seemed like there was never time to do all of the things they needed after school, like help with homework, school sports, music lessons, buying clothes, doctor's appointments and everything else. As for going down to the school, unless it was a crisis -forget it!
Instead of wondering why so many parents don't come perhaps we should instead be gratified when, like at the last training on IEPs that Erich did at Standing Rock, we actually DO have 80 parents come out. Now, that is truly amazing.