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Back-to-School: Top 5 Check List To Help You Connect With Your Kids

autism children Communication emotion regulation Relationship Skills Respect for Others Self-Awareness Self-Confidence Self-Management Self-Perception Social Awareness social emotional learning Social Engagement Stress Management

by Joanna Keating-Velasco

back to school

It's that time of year again!  Educators, are you thinking about ways to help the year progress smoothly?  The answer lies in taking the time to build a relationship with each student.

August revives so many back-to-school memories. I fondly remember in first grade, my teacher made us all learn and sing the song “Getting to Know You” from The King and I. The lyrics are still relevant and ring so true.

As an educator, sometimes back-to-school means I will have students who are totally new to me. For students, it means having new classmates and potentially new faces in school staff including teachers, aides, therapists and principals.

One of the goals that I strive to achieve is taking the time to get to know each student as an individual which makes the year go much more easily.  By concentrating on this, you can earn respect and rapport with each student. This can go a long way for a successful school year for all involved.

Let’s compare “getting to know you” steps of working with neuro-typical students versus students with special challenges. What are the “isms” which make this dynamic different?

First, I want to outline five steps which prove very helpful when working with neuro-typical students. I find that if one follows these basic steps, you can quickly build a relationship with these students.

 

Getting to Know the Neuro-Typical Student

  1. Find the Student’s Interest, Hobbies or Passions
  • Giving attention to these interests might gain you some respect and cooperation.
  1. Observe How Each Student Learns
  • Which is best? Show by example, visual reminders or modeling?
  1. Find the Student’s Strengths
  • Encouraging and complimenting students can increase their self-esteem and you may gain a greater respect from them.
  1. Understand a Student’s Weaknesses or Challenges and Support Them in These Areas
  • Set expectations high, but support and encourage where help is needed.
  1. Figure Out What Is Fun or Motivating for that Individual
  • If a student loves an activity, reward positive behavior with this activity.

Now, here are the five steps I highly recommend when working with students who have special needs.

 

Getting to Know the Student with Special Challenges

  1. Find the Student’s Interest, Hobbies or Passions
  • Giving attention to these interests might gain you some respect and cooperation.
  1. Observe How Each Student Learns
  • Which is best? Show by example, visual reminders or modeling?
  1. Find the Student’s Strengths
  • Encouraging and complimenting students can increase their self-esteem and you may gain a greater respect from them.
  1. Understand a Student’s Weaknesses or Challenges and Support Them in These Areas
  • Set expectations high, but support and encourage where help is needed.
  1. Figure Out What Is Fun or Motivating for that Individual
  •  If a student loves an activity, reward positive behavior with this activity.

 

The Basics are the Same!

Imagine that!! The basics for getting to know a neuro-typical child are the same as those for a child who has challenges!

By taking the time and energy to get to know each student as an individual, you will gain their respect. Through time, you can build a specific trusting relationship with that student.

On the contrary, if people are bundled into departments based solely on their challenges, they might “lose the individual” in the “isms.” Even though taking the time to view each child individually will take more initial energy, it will be more rewarding for you and the student in the long run.

 

“Getting to Know You” Packet

As a parent of a child with special challenges, you may be thinking, “You are preaching to the choir! I already have gotten to know my child.” Well, then I challenge you to help the people who interact with your child get to know your child better.

An easy and helpful way to do this at the beginning of each school year is to give your child’s teacher a “Getting to Know You” packet. It can be a fun introduction to your child listing his/her passions, learning style, strengths, weaknesses and things that your child finds fun.

This little bit of knowledge can really be a strong bridge between your child and a staff member that can make back-to-school a “cup of tea” for everyone. Just for fun, you might consider adding the lyrics from “Getting to Know You” and include a little box of tea bags.

Teacher Tip:  It might be smart for you to take initiative and hand out your own "Getting To Know Your Child" worksheets to parents for them to fill out on back to school night.  CLICK HERE for your free printable handout.

 

 


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