The learning doesn’t stop for the students in your special education program when they leave the classroom for the day. They’ll continue to work on and build the skills in their IEP at home. That’s why it’s important for parents to be active members of their student’s IEP team.
However, administrators are important players on the team, too. Even though principals, assistant principals, and other school administrators aren’t in the classroom every day, they can still work together with parents to ensure that special education students are properly supported in school and at home.
PTS provides day-to-day program supervision for our partnering schools and can offer guidance on how parents and school administrators can work together. Here are some of our top suggestions based on the schools, parents, students, and teachers that we work with every day.
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Foster Mutual Trust and Respect through Regular Communication
Mutual trust and respect are vital to foster true collaboration between parents and school administrators—and regular, open communication is how you build that trust. There are a few ways that you can open that line of communication between parents and administrators:
Initiate Check-Ins with Parents Often
Often, parents are only called to the principal’s office when students are misbehaving or having any other negative experience. Regular check-ins with parents allow you and parents to touch base for positive and productive reasons, too. This also allows you to form a more consistent relationship and gives the parent an opportunity to be more actively involved in their child’s education experience.
Remember that parents are valuable resources of information, so regular, open communication between parents and administrators can allow for more effective IEP implementation. Parents can inform admins when students are having difficulty at school and offer insight from their own observations that can be instrumental in identifying possible solutions.
As an added bonus, these regular check-ins will give you the opportunity to pre-emptively handle potential issues early. Addressing issues early on can prevent the time-consuming task of addressing them once they’re full-blown problems.
Use Virtual Resources to Accommodate Busy Schedules
Communication is important, but busy schedules can sometimes get in the way. Use technology to your advantage here. Initiate video calls and virtual meetings if in-person meetings don’t fit into a tight schedule. Also, don’t underestimate the effectiveness of a quick email check-in.
Explain the Role that Parents Play in the IEP Process
Start with the basics by taking time to help parents understand their role in the IEP process. While many school administrators are involved in the IEP process daily, some parents may be new to it.
However, informing parents on how they can be an active member of their student’s IEP team fosters collaboration and facilitates parent involvement. Invite them in by taking the time to explain where they fit into the whole scheme of things and how they can support their child at home.
Offer Parents Resources to Learn about the IEP Process and What the School Can Offer Students
Research from the University of North Florida has indicated that parents who are more knowledgeable of the IEP process report more positive experiences of collaboration with the school as a whole.* As an administrator, you can facilitate this sense of positive collaboration by providing parents with resources to learn about the IEP process, as well as the services that the school can offer students.
If a parent is new to or unfamiliar with the IEP process, they may feel unsure of their role and may not even know what kinds of services are available for their child. As we already mentioned, you may be well-versed in the IEP process, but not all parents are. In fact, many may be experiencing this for the first time—that’s especially true for parents of younger students. So, don’t assume that all parents are IEP experts.
Have group or one-on-one information sessions for parents with students in special education or offer resources where parents can learn about the IEP process from sources outside of your school. Some resources that can be helpful for parents include:
- Explanations of special education vocabulary and verbiage
- Resources for outside support
- Guidance for parents on where they can learn about the IEP process and their role in their student’s IEP team
Back-to-school night—if your school hosts one—or regularly scheduled parent-teacher conferences can provide an ideal opportunity for these information sessions.
Foster Open Collaboration Between Parents and School Administrators with Help from PTS
PTS has experience working with parents and schools to provide therapeutic educational supports for children with disabilities. Our Clinical Directors provide ongoing day-to-day program supervision, so that administrators have more time to collaborate with parents.
We’ll be happy to offer guidance for how to improve collaboration between parents and school administrators, based on our experiences working as both therapists and administrators. Contact us to find out what kinds of resources we can offer parents and school administrators today!