Collaboration between parents, educators and specialist service providers

By Shireen Archibald (NILD SA Director)

Often the terminology or difference of opinion between the various role players in a child’s educational arenas can be confusing and cause unnecessary conflict.

If these role players can “get on the same page” as it were then understanding of the child’s needs can be enhanced, which is what this “team” should strive for.  It is vital for a child to have the important people in his education working together to provide the best for him/her to ensure a positive and proactive school experience.

To try and alleviate some of this confusion let us look at some of the terminology used today.  According to the Dyslexia association, and I quote, “by contrast to DSM-IV, psychometric data alone are insufficient for a DSM-5 diagnosis of SLD. A much closer collaboration is required between educators, clinicians, and parents, to provide access to formal and informal school records, academic portfolios, instructional history, as well as information from psycho-educational and clinical assessments. Closer and ongoing collaboration between clinicians, educators, parents, and the individual with SLD might lead to less confusion and frustration while navigating both worlds (educational, clinical) and better outcomes”.

According to the DSM-V a diagnosis of a learning disorder is now referred to as a Specific Learning Disorder with specific impairment in reading, or impairment in written expression or impairment in mathematics.  The terms “dyslexia”, “dyscalculia” and “dysgraphia” are not often used anymore when referring to a learning disability.

If, however, as a parent a report or meeting includes terminology you do not understand please ask the teacher or specialist to clarify what they mean so that you are not more confused.

On the collaboration front:  Positive parent-school communications benefit parents.  Parents benefit from being involved in their children’s education by getting ideas from school on how to help and support their children, and by learning more about the school’s academic programme and how it works. Perhaps most important, parents benefit by becoming more confident about the value of their school involvement and they develop a greater appreciation for the important role they play in their children’s education.

Positive parent-school communications benefit educators.  By having more contact with parents, teachers learn more about the students’ needs and home environment, which is information they can apply toward better meeting those needs. Also, if parents are involved they tend to have a more positive view of teachers, which results in improved teacher morale.

Probably the most important benefit for this collaboration is shown in an article on which states that “Substantial evidence exists showing that parent involvement benefits students, including raising their academic achievement. There are other advantages for children when parents become involved — namely, increased motivation for learning, improved behaviour, more regular attendance, and a more positive attitude about homework and school in general.”

So, I encourage parents, educators, specialists and the student to work together for the common goal of ensuring a positive and proactive school experience.