Communication between school and home is so vital when you have a child with additional needs. I first learned about Communication Journals when my oldest son Conor started in Knockrooskey Autism Unit many years ago.
This weeks Guest Post is all about Home-School Communication, written by brilliant Teacher Catherine Vance who has worked in a Special Education setting.
Thank you Catherine for your information packed Guest Post as part of the Little Puddins’ “Autism 101” series.
The Autism 101 series essentially allows parents of children with Autism, to “Ask the Expert”, for help and guidance.
Catherine is this weeks “Expert” Guest Blogger as part of the Autism 101 series and I am so thankful for the time and effort she has taken out of her busy schedule to impart vital information for Parents and Professionals.
She has even prepared a brilliant FREE PDF Communication Printable you can use between Home – School to learn how your child’s day at school has been! You can find your FREE PDF download at the end of this post!
Communication between home and school can by tricky to navigate for any parent/teacher. Between children travelling on the bus, teachers rushing to staff meetings, and parents doing multiple pick ups, it can be hard to find the time to catch up on the ins and outs of the school day.
Although a beneficial extra, this daily communication with teachers is not necessary for most children. However, if your child has special needs it can be a lot more difficult to navigate the home-school communication.
Some children may be non-verbal, or some may simply not have the vocabulary or the understanding to tell you about their day. For children with additional needs, a home-school communication journal is a necessary lifeline.
A home-school communication journal is exactly what it says on the tin – a journal through which home and school can communicate to provide the best possible care and education for a child.
Many children enrolled in special education, whether it be in a unit in a mainstream school or a specialised school, avail of bus travel. While a wonderful asset for families, this means that parents may not see teachers for weeks on end, unless a meeting is arranged. This is where the home-school communication journal comes into its own.
There is no recommended format for a communication journal, and most schools create their own design that works for them. However, from my own experience and research, here are a few key areas I feel should be included:
- Activities completed that day (PE, Art, OT, Jigsaws etc.)
- Skills worked on that day (Cutting, sorting colours etc.)
- Was lunch eaten?
- Did the child go to the toilet/get a nappy changed?
- Did the child have a bowel movement?
- Any additional items the child needs (nappies, wipes, spare trousers etc.)
- What kind of day did the child have?
- Teacher comment box
- Parents comment box
A communication journal is full of benefits for students, parents and teachers. All of the above points allow the teacher to share important information about the child’s day with the parent.
For parents who provide home schooling or extra tuition to their children, knowledge of the activities and skills being worked on allows them to keep the focus on the same area. Every parent needs to know about the health and wellbeing of their child, therefore it is imperative they are made aware of what food is being eaten in school, and their child’s toileting routine. Finally, just like all parents, it’s nice to know what your child has been up to in school every day!
We all know that parents like to know about their child’s day in school, and it’s important for helping to develop communication and relationships at home. However, an element that is often overlooked, or deemed not necessary, is the parents comment box. As a teacher, I want to stress how vital this information is for us in the classroom. While parents can certainly benefit from knowing about their child’s day in school, it is also beneficial for teachers/SNAs to know about the previous evening at home. For example, if a child is particularly lethargic in school is it due to a lack of sleep, or not eating dinner/breakfast? If a child is acting out, or behaving differently, did something out of routine happen at home? Remember, many of these children need extra support communicating their needs – it’s essential that parents and teachers work together for the benefit of the child.
Although your child may not directly engage with the communication journal, there are multiple benefits to having one in place. With teachers and parents on the same page in relation to skills development, your child gets to focus on one key area instead of being given multiple tasks during the day, all of which work on different skills and are in no way linked together. Ultimately, what the journal allows for is a team to be set up around your child; a team who are all working together to provide the best possible care and education for them. What child doesn’t want their own team of superheroes?!
As a teacher, I have seen the benefits of home-school communication journals in both a unit and a classroom in the mainstream school. Every school is different, and each will have their own way of doing things, but it is imperative that you have some form of communication in place. It is important to remember that finding time to communicate with parents daily is often a major challenge for teachers. Finding time to write notes is almost impossible, so an effective communication journal should avail of tick boxes wherever possible. There will always be days when something arises in class which prevents the teacher from filling these in, and it’s important to recognise that it is not a failing of the teacher. Similarly, as teachers we have to remember that home life is not always plain sailing, and there may be times when a parent just doesn’t have the time to fill in the journal. Through all of this it is important to remember that we are all human, and that parents and teachers are a team who must work together and support one another. No team is without its ups and downs, but at the end of the day our focus must always be on the wonderful children we have the privilege and pleasure of working with every single day.
That’s all for this post. I hope you have found some of this information useful, but please remember this is only one teacher’s guide and there are many others out there. If you do have any concerns, or feel this communication journal would benefit your child, please speak directly to your child’s class teacher.
Finally, I hope this downloadable communication sheet with be of some use to you all!
You can download your FREE PDF Download here, with special thanks to Catherine for sharing her fab printable with us all!
If you would like to contact Catherine for more teaching top tips, check out her brand new instagram account which you can find HERE!
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