March 2022: Supporting Families With Special Needs Children
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As early childhood educators, we have all been put in awkward situations when it comes to discussing certain topics with parents and caregivers. One of these is difficult topics may be a potential delay in a child’s ability to learn. In this month’s blog, I will give you some ideas and advice on how to go about having these tough conversations. You might find that this goes hand-in-hand with two of our courses: “Communicating with Families to Support Children with Developmental Delays” and our newest course, “Autism 101: An Overview of Early Identification and Supporting Families”. So if you are in need of some training hours, check them out!
One of the most important things to do with the families in your care is to establish and maintain good, open communication with families. Do not hesitate to ask that parents and guardians not be on their phones when they are picking up and dropping off their children. That includes calling, texting, etc. This ensures that you get their undivided attention and are able to tell them about their child’s day, remind them of anything they need to know and give you the opportunity to ask when they would be able to have a Parent/Teacher conference.
So, how do you go about actually telling the child’s caregiver that you believe the child might have a learning disability, without actually saying it? Make sure to ease into it with something positive that their child has done, a milestone they have reached, or something to start the conversation on a lighter note. Maybe even having some of the child’s newest artwork to show them will help lighten the mood! Now, it’s time to get to “the point.”
Finally, it is essential that you do not give parents or caregivers the impression that you are trying to diagnose their child. The only thing you can do is explain the behaviors that you have observed while they are in your care. For example, mention that you have noticed that Johnny loves to line up his crayons on the table in rainbow order before he begins to color. If one falls out of place, he feels the need to throw away his project and start over. Or, that he doesn’t like to use soap when he washes his hands because of how it feels, or maybe that he doesn’t like to turn the pages in a book because of the feeling he gets when pages rub together.
It isn’t always sunshine and rainbows while taking care of children. There are boo-boos and potty accidents. There is that one baby doll that all the kids want to “mother” and that one ball on the playground that nobody wants to pass. But this is different. You have people’s hearts and souls running around your classroom. They are all perfect in their caregiver’s eyes. But because you are an Early Childhood Educator (aka Superhero), YOU GOT THIS.