Parent and Professional Partnership
Home School Partnership
Effective home- school collaboration begins with an understanding of autism and of the supportive roles of both the parent and the professional. Parents and professionals each have a unique skill set of knowledge and experience which can provide valuable information about the child or young person. It may be a challenge for the child or young person with SLD to communicate and share their school/home experiences, therefore the need for effective collaboration between parents and professionals is imperative.
To ensure effective collaboration a partnership is required between parents and professionals to support the child or young person. Once the partnership is established, commitment from both is necessary to ensure the relationship is maintained. The effectiveness of this partnership should be evidenced by positive outcomes for the student.
Research by Azad, Wolk and Mandell (2018c) highlighted that parents and teachers can become frustrated when their ideas are not considered, and this can lead to a lack of confidence in sharing their knowledge and expertise. Schools and homes are busy environments, each with their own demands. Understanding the individual needs of each family can help the professional to identify what type of support they can provide. Professionals often work under time constraints and have many roles so an understanding of this from parents is equally beneficial.
It is also important to listen to the voice of the child or young person to ensure that discussions and decisions reflect both their strengths and needs. This can be established by observation and listening to what the child or young person is communicating across both environments.
The child or young person’s voice can be included in a home – school communication system. Link to school and home communication log
Supporting strategies could be a communication system and/or a behavioural approach which incorporates strategies and techniques that meet the individual strengths and needs of the child or young person. Effective parent- professional partnerships can help to identify priorities for the student and help to reach a consensus on how best to address these.
Five Key Questions the Parent and the Professional can Reflect on:
- What are the common goals?
Effective communication should highlight these, and they can be varied. For example, addressing a behaviour of concern, generalising a skill, celebrating a preferred interest or achievement/success.
- What realistically can be offered by each partner?
If effective collaboration is consistent, expectations from both partners should be manageable and clear targets provided on how each can support the child or young person.
- What platforms are in place to share information?
Effective communication requires frequent, active participation from both partners. This can be through school newsletters, parent/school meetings, home-school books and apps.
- What type of information is being shared and how can this support the child/young person at school and home?
This may include sharing video footage/photographs of how supports have been developed and used in school/home so they can be replicated across both environments. This could be a visual schedule or a communication system, or the child/young person learning a new skill.
- How to know when the partnership is working?
Support will be provided for the student, and outcomes should be positive across both school and home. There are clear pathways in place for communication between both partners and contributions are valued from both partners.
There is flexibility from both partners to question and reflect on knowledge and practice.
Two areas where effective collaboration can result in positive outcomes for the child or young person is in targeting the generalisation of skills across environments and in supporting transitions. A study by Josilowski & Morris (2019) highlighted that when skills learned across both environments were reinforced, new skills were developed. The outcomes were that parents received support and teachers increased their understanding of the child/young person’s strengths and needs.
Generalising skills across environments.
Generalising a skill so it is consistent for autistic children and young people can be challenging as they can find it difficult to make meaningful connections across environments. By providing opportunities to practice skills across home, school and the community, all partners are increasing the child/young person’s independence skills which can then enhance their confidence.
Recycling at school and home
Supporting Transitions across Home and School
A study by Josilowski and Morris (2019) highlighted that home-school collaboration is imperative when students are transitioning to a new school or classroom. The benefits of this collaboration resulted in improved learning outcomes for the children and young people, and enabled parents to feel supported. The use of a student passport can help professionals to learn key information about a child/young person, such as preferred interests, learning style and things they may find difficult to manage.
Points to remember
- Use your knowledge and experience of the young person’s strengths, preferences and needs to inform the use of consistent approaches between home and school.
- Foster and maximise on opportunities to collaborate effectively and share information between home and school.
- Promote and prioritise independence skills by creating opportunities for generalisation across home and school.
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