5 Simple Strategies to Stay Cool
With Your Kids School
For some parents and caregivers, school means sweet, sweet respite. But for most, it means an ongoing and constant battle between you and the school. The first day of school begins with a sigh of relief once your child reaches their classroom, but then so do the countless phone calls, poor grades and not to mention those fantastic one on one meeting with teachers.
Just thinking about it makes my stomach turn, not to mention what it does to your kids. Really, though. Could you imagine having to go somewhere everyday just to get in trouble with teachers and teased by other students? No wonder your kids put you through hell every morning and do everything in their power to not go to school.
But, have no fear! Your child’s school experience does not have to be like that. Educational institutions and Caregivers can be successful and even have a great relationship, if done right. It can be the difference between your kid with FASD succeeding or just another source of frustration for them and you.
I have come across a fantastic document from Alberta Education’s ‘Learning and Teaching Resources Branch’, called Redefining Success: A Team Approach to Supporting Students with FASD. It’s an amazing resource, which provides you with fantastic resources to make the school year the most positive and rewarding experience for teachers, caregivers and students. The downfall of the article is that it is 86 pages and as caregivers of a student with FASD, finding that kind of time is very tough. So, I’m giving you the Coles notes. I have provided you with the five most important strategies that will help bring you and your child success throughout the school year. Think of it as a ‘How to Conquer School Guide’.
If you do get an opportunity to read a few more pages, I encourage you to click the link below and read the full document for yourself. You will be glad that you did. I’m sure of it.
1. BUILD RAPPORT WITH SCHOOL STAFF
This, in my opinion, is the most important thing you can do for yourself as a caregiver and as an advocate. In order for someone to put themselves in your shoes, you must first put yourself in theirs. In this case it would be the teachers turn to put on your shoes, that of the caregiver. For the vast majority of teachers, they want to do well, they want to make a difference in your child’s life and help them build skills to be successful. However, most teachers have not been through any kind of training about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. It is your job to teach them about the disability through constant communication, whatever type of communication that may be. I had the opportunity to work in a high school for a semester with some truly, wonderful teachers, however their mandate as a school is to teach academics. But, like many schools, are underfunded and too under staffed to deal with the demands our kids place on them. To build rapport with the staff at the school you need to have an abundance of patience (I know it’s easier said than done, trust me, I know) and LOTS of tenacity. Whatever it takes to get them on your side and your team, do it! Even if that means buttering them up with some of your famous brownies or cupcakes. Remember, some teachers who do not understand FASD will think your part of the problem, so do your best to show them otherwise by building great rapport with them.
2. MAKE A LIST OF STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF YOUR STUDENT WITH FASD FOR SCHOOL STAFF
Guess what? Contrary to popular belief you are the expert on your child. A strategy that worked for me, was I created a cheat sheet about the student with FASD. Make a one pager about what works with your child and what does not. I was once told by a teacher that if it’s more than one page, the chances of the teachers reading it are slim because they are so busy. The education goal for your child should be to focus on more of what they like and are good at and not their weaknesses. And if you don’t tell your child’s teacher, it might take them all term to figure it out. It’s all about creating competence with these students; because once we have competence then we get compliance. Guaranteed! There is a template already laid out for you on page 48, Tool F. Check it out!
3. MAKE SURE THERE IS A PLAN IN CASE OF A MELTDOWN
Because there will be a meltdown. If they happen at home, they will happen at school. Let the teacher know how you handle your child at home, what a typical meltdown may look like, even the language you use. If the meltdowns become more frequent, it’s because your student is overwhelmed and is not able to do what they are being asked.
4. HAVE YOUR CHILD INVOLVED WITH SCHOOL CLUBS
At the end of the day all these kids want is to be just like other kids. Social inclusion is of the utmost importance. These kids need to have as much social practice as possible. Period.
Find a way to include yourself at the school every once and a while, ie. School trips, clubs, sports, science fairs, whatever, it just gives you another opportunity to build rapport with school staff, not to mention educate them. Building positive peer relationships is always a challenge for these guys, so the more opportunities they have to practice being a good friend and being a part of a group, the better. Just because they have a disability does not mean that they should be secluded from enjoying the benefits that come from participating in school clubs. The difference with children and young people with FASD, is that they need to do things more often for less time, that way they get to enjoy the experience without having to be there for too long. Which also means less opportunity for a meltdown to occur. Check and check.
5. IF IT’S NOT WORKING GO TO A DIFFERENT SCHOOL
If you get to the point where you are so frustrated you just want to start throwing people through windows(for some weird reason that’s what I always picture doing to people when I am mad) then for heaven’s sake, go find people who get it. I mean, really get FASD. There are only so many pamphlets and educating you can do. So, take your child somewhere else. Talk with other FASD caregivers, go to other schools and meet with the staff; you are not as powerless as you might think. If the school is not meeting your child’s needs then go find one that will!!!
School can be a fantastic time for children, even those with FASD. We have to honor their disability and as caregivers we can do that by using the above strategies and reading the amazing document from the link below. With the help of fantastic caregivers like yourself and supportive teachers, you will be amazed at what your child can accomplish.
Call to Action
Let me know if there are any other specific strategies that you have found helpful for you and your child in school? And even better, let me know what hasn’t worked? No use in reinventing the wheel, right?!
Here is the link
Source:( Re: Defining Success. A Team Approach to Supporting Students with FASD)