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PICS - Parents Involved in Classroom Success - April 2008

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PICS, Parents Involved in Classroom Success

By: Peg Hutson-Nechkash, M.S., CCC-SLP

As educators, we recognize the need for parental involvement in children's educational programs. When parents are supportive and participate in their child's educational programs, the child benefits. This is especially true in special education programs which rely on cooperative efforts between parents and teachers to affect significant and lasting changes in children's skills (Andrews, Andrews, and Shearer, 1989). For parents to be truly involved in their child's educational progress, it is essential that parents have a clear understanding of the goals and objectives included in their child's educational plan (Maxwell, 1988). With the increase in technology, it is easier than ever to inform and involve parents. With a computer, digital camera and color printer, parents can be updated on their child's goals and the progress to reach those goals. As an example, a goal from a child's IEP could be to sequence information. The ability to sequence information is critical for remembering and retelling events in a story, as well as giving and following directions. Using time-related words such as first, next, then, after, etc. provides helpful organizational cues.

With a digital camera, take pictures of a student arriving at school, taking off backpack and outerwear, entering the classroom and greeting friends. Download these pictures to the computer and save. Paste the pictures onto a word-processing document. Ask the child to explain what he/she is doing in the pictures and encourage the use of time-related words such as first, and next. Enter the comments from the child next to the pictures and e-mail or print and send home the document for the parents.

Encourage parents to discuss the pictures with their child at home. For some children, other speech and language goals can be addressed such as producing complete utterances, or using pronouns, i.e., "I hang up my coat". These same pictures can also be scrambled so that they are not in order. Print off the pictures and ask the child to cut them out and put them into the correct order. Pictures taken throughout the day, give parents an idea of how the child spends his/her day.

Another goal from a child's IEP could be to develop use of concepts. Concepts are defined as words which represent relationships of time, space, quality and quantity and describe social-emotional states. With a digital camera, take pictures of the children in various places such as under the table, in the gym, behind the desk, going down the stairs, etc. Download the pictures and save to a word document. With the children, add comments about the pictures or questions about the pictures for those children who need extra practice in forming wh questions. Another fun activity is to photograph the children making faces to show different emotions. With the child, create sentences describing the pictures, such as, "I am excited because", "We are surprised because:", or "I am upset because:" E-mail or send home the pictures with the comments for the parents to practice at home.

Prior to taking photographs of the children, it is recommended that the school staff obtain a signed consent form from the parents allowing photographs to be taken. It is also recommended that parents be informed that these photographs will not be posted on school web sites or anywhere else on-line. These photographs are only intended for the parents' use. The use of photographs in your classrooms is limitless. Photographs have been used to expand vocabulary skills, increase intelligibility, increase use of correct verb tenses, and improve narrative skills. For preschool-age students, photographs have been used to identify colors and shapes, name body parts, count objects, and give personal information. Children love to see themselves photographed and parents enjoy receiving photos of their children. Teachers can save these photos and comments to make wonderful scrapbooks at the end of the year. We have all the heard the expression: "A picture is worth a thousand words." For children with exceptional educational needs, a picture may be worth a complete utterance. So grab those digital cameras and say "cheese" to make language skills and memories that last forever.

References
Andrews, J., Andrews, M., and Shearer, W. (1989). Parents' attitudes toward family involvement in speech-language services. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 20 (4), 391- 399.

Maxwell, S. (1988). A model preschool language and learning program. Seminars in Speech and Language, 9 (4), 321-328.



This Month's Contributing Author: Peg Hutson-Nechkash, M.S., CCC-SLP

Special Thanks to Peg Hutson-Nechkash, M.S., CCC- SLP, for providing an article for
this issue's Therapy Corner.

Peg Hutson-Nechkash, M.S., CCC-SLP, is a publisher with Strategies for Learning Press. Peg is a speech-language pathologist with over 25 years experience working in schools. Peg is the author of numerous publications including Narrative Toolbox, Story Stunts and Help Me Write published by Super Duper Publications. With LinguiSystems, Peg has written Word Catchers for Articulation and Speech Spinners. For Strategies for Learning Press, Peg has written Saying Big Words and Deeper Meanings.

Tags: Parental Involvement April 2008 Newsletter OT PT SLP School Based Psychology Article PI Pyschology