Making the Choice to be Naughty or Nice: Resolutions for the Holiday Season and New Year
Naughty or Nice
I am a bit like a milk chocolate bar – intense but never dark. However, somehow I still manage to blow people out of the water. I am certain my face is plastered on a dart board or a trash can. I really can’t blame them.
After all, being naughty or nice is really a year round choice. Since I don’t always model the good, I try to take advantage of this seasonal opportunity to begin anew.
Here are some of my favorite tips to honor, advocate and create stronger home-school relations. Most cost nothing or very little:
1. Personal Conversations: This may seem like a no-brainer, but, in a world of emails, texting and social media, there is no replacement for the good-ol, face-to-face “Thank You.” It’s a time to purge the guilt and start anew. If it’s too much – write a note.
2. Create a Certificate: We found teacher appreciation templates on-line. We personalized them for each team member because support staff get over-looked sometimes. We added a photo of our son and then had him help to personalize each one. We had access to a laminating machine which helped to preserve it. We did these four years ago and they are still hanging up on bulletin boards.
3. Make a Video: Children love being videotaped. It’s their chance to be a star. We did this as an end of year thank you. It ended up being shown on the teacher’s Facebook page and at her family reunion. She said it was the best gift ever. All we did was use the video function on our smart phone. In one shot our son told from his heart why she was the best.
4. Bake: Fresh baked goods go a long way. Especially if you can attached a photo or artwork by your child. Nothing say’s lov’n like something from your oven.
Send a Note to the Boss: We have had several permanent substitute teachers during our son’s academic career. I think that they often work harder because they have been placed without a lot of training or support systems. Their love for children and a willingness to provide differentiated instruction are the two tools that got them the job. So, I think, writing a letter to a district administrator goes a long way. If you don’t have time to write – pick up the phone. Then make a point of telling your teacher what you did. It goes a long way.
1. Clear Vision: It’s hard to advocate if you don’t have a strong idea about what you want for your child. It could be a wish list. The key point is that your vision is what drives the planning for your child’s future. Most importantly, it needs to be shared with all of the members of the school team. You, the parent, need to make this commitment. It is a gift to you and to your child.
2. Build Relationships: Because I am the queen of mistakes, I know the value of this point. If you take the initiative to do this – it pays off tenfold when you do overreact.
3. Use People’s Names: People love to hear their names. This one goes both ways. If a school team keeps calling you “Mom” or “Dad” in a meeting, make the point of asking if you can advance your relationship with them? In a kind way, ask them if they like to be addressed formally or casually? Then ask for the same courtesy. It’s a small thing, but, one both sides should resolve to do with the New Year.
1. Social Media: I may be in the minority on this one, but, I have found that having my son’s teachers on my Facebook and YouTube accounts has helped to strengthen our relationship. It also has given the team insight to behaviors or skills that may not always be exhibited at school. It takes a commitment to trust but it has developed our friendships long after our child has moved on.
2. Buy a Notebook: Our son was non-verbal for the first seven years of his life. I found that having a communication notebook was a valuable tool. It enabled me to share what we were doing at home and provided the team a way of updating me. Those notebooks also created a journal of our son’s progress. I still pull them out and look at them. They are precious to me.
One of the most interesting outcomes of this process is that we became reconnected with the families I reference in the beginning of this essay. They too found it was time for a change. We crossed paths at other camps and afterschool programming. We still continue to share and encourage. We just do it now in other settings and in new ways.
- Family-School Collaboration Focusing on Quality of Life for All
- The Politics of Special Education: The Information You Need Right Now
- Advocating: What You Need to Know to Become a Better Advocate
- 8 Ways to be a Great Advocate For Your Family Member With Special Needs
- IEP… I Do’s Building a Viable Home-School Relationship – It’s like a Marriage
- What You Need to Know If You Unenroll Your Child From Public School, Private Schools, Home Education & IEPs
- It’s Not Rocket Science: The Art of Planning Good Meetings between Home and School Teams
- Beyond the IEP Team: 6 Tips for Parent Participation at School
- IEP Prep: Using the Mama Bear Strategy
This post originally appeared on our November/December 2013 Magazine