I love hats. They cover my “bad hair days”. They can accentuate an outfit; they are often the perfect accessory to a bland wardrobe and block the sun, protecting the body from getting burned. They also come in many styles; you have your top hot, sun hat, baseball cap, church hat, and many others.
I love the versatility of a good hat. But if I am honest, I often try to wear too many of them. With too many of them on at any given time, clashes and chaos happens.
This is how it is when we take on too many roles at the same time. They begin to clash. Unfortunately, many of us parents are being “forced” into a position where we have to be both parent and teacher this upcoming 2020/2021 school year. And for some of us with children with special needs, there’s the additional positions of speech therapist, learning support teacher or even behavior specialist.
Wearing all of those hats can be overwhelming, scary and confusing for both the parent and the child. How do you maintain employment and still keep your child’s school schedule in tact? What if they need help? Do you have the patience for this? What about their social interactions?
In regards to teachers, they may be either fearing or mourning over the fact that their students will be home being neglected of the nurturing, patience or care that they are given at school in which parents may not be able to provide at home.
Is this a “conflict of interest”? Can Parent’s wear all of these other Hats? Should Teachers wear the parent hat? Have parents become dependent on the schools to provide their children the educational and therapeutic care they need? (Please comment…I would love to hear your feedback)
Meanwhile, the fact remains that both teachers and parents are being put into uncomfortable and unorthodox situations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They are in need of support and answers to their questions. I was placed in this situation back in March when schools closed down. While I am grateful to have experience and education in the field of Autism, I still had to accept the fact that I am not a Teacher, Autistic Support Teacher or a Speech Therapist. And while I am a Behavior Specialist, finding balance between Parent and Clinician was and still is a skill I am acquiring.
Behavior Specialist or Parent? Or both?
My days included setting my son up in front of a computer, providing meals in between and honestly, letting housework go until time allows so my son would have my undivided attention for school. I am usually a person who thrives from multitasking, but the truth of the matter is that wearing too many hats made my head hurt and it became too heavy. So, I had to allow myself to wear one hat at a time; and even further, if I couldn’t fit one hat, I had to reach out to someone who wears the hat better than I do! I was reminded of 2 verses:
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.1 Corinthians 12: 21 & 26
While the context refers to the church using the spiritual gifts God has given them, I believe the analogy fits. I as a parent could not say that I don’t need my child’s teachers nor can the teachers say that they don’t need my parental involvement. I had to realize the God created us with different skills and gifts to support each other and ultimately, for His glory.
I don’t have all of the answers but that experience along with recent resources and ideas I’ve gathered have been helpful in preparing for this upcoming school year. Last week I provided suggestions for sending your child to school with a mask. this week I would like to provide suggestions for parents who will be home with their children who have special needs for this school year (or at least a portion of it). Whether homeschooling or monitoring your child’s virtual learning program, I believe the following tips can be beneficial. If you would like an individualized plan for your home setting, please feel free to schedule a consult.
Resources for At Home Parents
- Reach out to ALL of your child’s schoolteachers, therapists, supports, etc. and ask questions!
- If your child has an IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) ask teacher how can it be revised to accommodate at-home learning needs
- Have a designated area for your child to work and keep it consistent each day
- Turn off all tv’s, phones and other electronic devices that are not being used specifically for school.
- If your child is hyper, allow your child to use a bean bag, swivel chair or put a stretch band at the end of the chair for them to kick to get energy out while they work
- Allow the child to snack as they work; if they get distracted from this, then given them snack after each task is completed as reinforcement
- Sit next to the child and rub their back, squeeze their arms and/or provide other forms of sensory as they are sitting in front of the computer.
- Set a timer for the child to see when lesson will be over
- Allow your child to have frequent breaks (coordinate them with the teacher if needed)
- Do lunch break together for bonding moments without demands given
- Collaborate with neighbors, friends, and other families with special needs children to schedule play dates and opportunities for social interactions
- Parents: create a time of day where you take a break (read, nap, meditate, pray etc.…without kids)
Resource for Working Parents
- Send your child to a facility that can monitor their learning with a therapeutic support staff (TSS) (Links provided)
Resources for Teachers, Therapists, Staff
- Teach, model, equip and prepare parents for how to give the child the care you can provide in the school setting
- Make lessons fun, interactive and engaging per the child’s likes and interests to make the home setting reinforcing for learning
- Modify and/or update the IEP so that it is functional and realistic for parents to implement in the home setting
- Do an individual face time call or home visit for children and families you know would benefit from it to follow up on parents
- Remember, the parent IS NOT THE EDUCATOR…so have patience, empathy and compassion.