When your child has a difficult time at school, you can support their educational needs by building partnerships with their school personnel.
A great first step includes reaching out to your child’s classroom teacher to introduce yourself and talk about ways to support your child at school. Over time, there may be additional people you meet at the school to help build a team of trusted advocates. Most schools have many opportunities to meet staff, whether during drop-offs and pickups, parent-teacher conferences, or school festivities. If you are unable to meet with staff during these times, consider other ways such as phone calls, handwritten notes, email or your child’s classroom portal.
Who’s Who at School
If you’d like to expand your connections beyond the classroom teacher:
- The school psychologist has knowledge in academics, behaviors and mental health. They often are involved in leading psychoeducational evaluations and helping identify appropriate accommodations or interventions. The school psychologist also works closely with the school team to set educational goals, monitor student’s progress and help staff understand resources to meet your child’s educational needs.
- If your child has a chronic health condition, the school nurse can provide school-based health care services. School nurses have many responsibilities in schools, including giving medication, providing health screenings, communicating with physicians and educating staff on health conditions.
- A social worker looks beyond grades and classroom behaviors to make sure your family’s needs are met. Social workers provide resources for transportation, housing, food, utilities, employment and more. They collaborate with families to connect them to resources to help with school success. For example, if a child is hungry, it can be hard for them to focus on lessons, participate in class and complete assignments. Be sure to contact the social worker if your family needs resources.
- A mental health therapist can be a licensed clinical social worker or licensed counselor who is available for psychotherapy at school. They may be school staff or they may be hired by an outside mental health agency and visit the school a few days a week. If you are ever worried about your child’s mental health, you can ask if this is a service that is provided at your school.
- A school counselor can provide check-ins to discuss educational goals. They also communicate with families when concerns are present. In high school, some guidance counselors help students find jobs, prepare them for college or help them transition to independent living. School counselors are not the same as a mental health counselor, so they may sometimes recommend connecting with a therapist if there are concerns about your child.
Common Ways to Work Together:
Daily Behavior Report Cards
A daily behavior report card can be an effective way for parents, whose young children are struggling with disruptive behaviors at school, to partner with teachers to help make positive changes.
- For this intervention, you will partner with the school to identify two or three behaviors that your child should improve.
- Describe the behaviors with positive language to explain what your child should do, rather than what not to do.
- Your child will earn points throughout the day for doing positive behaviors and can receive prizes at school for meeting their daily goals.
- The system allows teachers to give students praise and attention for their efforts to follow expectations.
- Teachers send the daily behavior report card home, so you can praise and reward your children as well.
This intervention is helpful because it’s focused on positive reinforcement for positive behaviors. Often, parents of children with disruptive behaviors only hear from teachers about negative behaviors, and children receive the most attention for doing negative behaviors. With this intervention, children receive positive praise and feedback when they are caught doing well, and parents can learn about the positive behaviors their child did at school.
Check-In and Check-Out Interventions
Middle and high school students may benefit from check-in and check-out interventions.
- During this intervention, a student is assigned to a staff member who serves as their main contact person.
- Each morning, the child meets with the staff member for a brief check-in to discuss behavioral expectations.
- They give your child a daily behavior report card to bring to each class.
- Throughout the school day, every teacher marks down whether your child met the behavioral expectations.
- At the end of the day, your child visits their assigned staff member to review how the day went, celebrate successes and discuss what made them successful.
This system helps students with challenging behaviors build positive relationships with school personnel, rather than being singled out for negative attention. This also allows your older child to be more independent. You should feel empowered to communicate with the assigned staff member to discuss progress with goals.
As a parent or caregiver, you can work with your child’s school to help your child succeed academically and socially. If you’ve been unable to connect with your child’s teacher, try reaching out to another member of the school staff. Together, you can work on finding the right collaborative intervention for your child.
Daily Behavior Report Card: https://ccf.fiu.edu/research/_assets/how_to_establish_a_school_drc.pdf