Something to Think About

A parent recently told me that at the high school her son attends the guidance counselor had told the students they wouldn't get far with an associate's degree. The counselor went on to say that today a bachelor's degree is okay but if they really want to make something of themselves they'd need to go higher than that. I don't want to debate how much college a person needs (or doesn't need). My question is, when these comments are relayed to parents, what is the impact? If this is the thought one holds, how does it affect intrapersonal communication?

A parent's experience in school is the mirror they look in when communicating with school staff. The parent who had a negative experience in their k-12 years might feel defensive or intimidated when they come to school for parent teacher conferences or an IEP meeting. Those feelings are passed on to their kids which creates more complications.

In the eighth edition of Exceptional Children, An Introduction to Special Education by William L. Heward, the author lists eight barriers to good communication between parents and teachers. They are, “Treating parents as vulnerable clients instead of equal partners, keeping professional distance, treating parents as if they need counseling, blaming parents for their child’s condition, disrespecting parents as less intelligent, treating parents as adversaries, and labeling parents.” (112)

The student’s success is directly impacted by how well the adults in her/his life collaborate. Parent involvement is so essential that in the state of Wisconsin almost all the state initiatives have components aimed at reinforcing the bridge between home and school. Response to Intervention, Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, Preschool Options, and the Wisconsin Statewide Transition Initiative each have guidelines, trainings and resources that include families. WSPEI Parent Liaisons are involved in creating, and presenting some of those trainings. And of course WSPEI is all about school and family connections and has a wide array of resources too. The foundation for how well each of these projects can be implemented is the individual relationships that start in the classroom.

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