A recurring issue when I talk to families from all over the world is whether or not to leave a child in school or pull a child out of school, either when beginning their home-based-program or considering when to place a child into school and running a part-time program.
In order to establish the development and growth of your child, it is very helpful when determining the consideration of school. When a child reaches a skill level of possibly being integrated into school, the steps to take for preparing your child for school will be of utmost importance.
To further help you determine the consideration of school or no school. I want to pass on a few very helpful points.
- If your child is already in a school setting when you begin your program, it is extremely important that you observe your child in the school environment the entire time that your child is there. One “red flag” occurs when a school does not allow you to observe or allows you only to observe a certain segment. Insist on watching the entire time, the future of your child depends on it. Play “bug on the wall” and quietly take detailed notes in a way that you don’t present a distraction for your child. It is most effective to observe class room time, recess, lunch time and/or any other circumstances like Speech therapy sessions etc.
- Bring a precise watch or clock so that you can time exactly how much and how often your child makes eye contact with the teacher/aide or with other children present.
- Determine how often and for how long is your child is left “idle” or left to his/her own devices without any teacher attention?
- Notice how long and how often is your child is given quality 1:1 attention?
- When given attention, are any requests made of your child against his/her will? Are the requests made at the level of your child’s ability/or needs or do you hear the same old “what color is this?” questions, knowing that your child has known his/her colors for a long time.
- Observe how many times and how often does your child hear the phrases “no…you can’t do this…don’t touch that”…etc.?
- When another child approaches your child or vice versa, is social interaction encouraged or discouraged? Is someone present for the social interaction, helping and guiding both children?
- When your child takes care of him/herself by stimming, how do teachers/aides respond to it? Is your child allowed to engage in repetitive behaviors, does someone pay attention to your child by possible paying besides your child, in a fashion of loving parallel play? Is your child given “time out” while stimming?
- When your child verbally communicates or expresses his/her wants, or raises his/her hand in order to participate, is your child responded to with excitement and enthusiasm? When your child is giving the “wrong” or “incorrect” answer, is your child encouraged to try again, or just ignored?
- Are the teachers/aides flexible enough when your child changes the subject or either wants to continue or stop an activity, or is your child “pushed” to move on with the rest of the class?
It has been the experience of many families when following these guidelines that it becomes self-evident and self-revealing whether or not the school setting/environment is suitable for their children. In the end most families know without a doubt what is the best for their child and they feel clearer, more confident, well informed and more comfortable making their decision.
Remember your home-base-program is not only a child-centered program, but also a parent-directed program.
YOU the PARENT(S) are the best experts on YOUR CHILD and on what is the most motivating environment for YOUR CHILD.
YOU the PARENT(S) are calling the shots when it comes to where and how you want to work with YOUR CHILD. Take charge; stand up for what YOU want. You can only be intimidated when you let yourself be intimidated. Seeing with your own eyes and listening with your own ears are the most reliable tools to determine what meets the needs of YOUR CHILD.