We are thrilled to feature Jacqueline S. Klein, MS. Ed, head of The Church of Epiphany Day School. Jacqueline and her team work hard to de-stigmatize the idea of a child needing extra support for a period of time in their growth and development, but also understand broaching this topic can be very emotionally charged for some parents.
Regular parent workshops are a must. Not only do we find that parents crave developmental insight and education from experts, they also really benefit from the support and relief that comes with learning in a group setting where everyone is experiencing similar family dynamics. At CEDS we back that up with consistent communications home about what is happening in the classroom and why. Our goal is to give parents insight into the theory and motivation behind everything we do with their children so they can understand the work we engage in with the children and see for themselves how their child is responding to that work.
Compassion, compassion, compassion! First and foremost teachers need to understand and respect the deep vulnerability of being a parent to a young child. No matter how much we try to de-stigmatize the idea of a child needing extra support for a period of time in their growth and development, broaching this topic can be very emotionally charged for some parents. I always remind my teachers that while we have a responsibility to honestly and openly relay our observations, we also have a responsibility to be compassionate and mindful of the impact our words can have on parents. I think of early childhood educators as front line workers, masters of observation with a responsibility to apply our training and understanding of child development to support children and families. So long as they approach each parent conversation with compassion and a collaborative attitude, they should be encouraged to feel heroic in their efforts to help support a child and empowered to clearly communicate their observations to parents. At CEDS we like to use the general approach of, “This is what we are observing in school, what are you observing at home?” This welcomes parents into the observation and inquiry process and helps them to feel like co-pilots instead of passengers.
Once a teacher has done their due diligence in advocating for a child, it’s time to pass the situation along to the next expert in line. Teachers shouldn’t feel the pressure of having difficult conversations with parents on their own. Leadership should take a primary role in communication with parents about referrals or interventions, if necessary, and the school should be ready to follow that up with resources.
Simply having a trusted place for teachers and administrators to recommend as a landing site for parent inquiries and resources is going to be huge. Navigating information on the internet and resources in New York City can be daunting. Building a collaborative parent support network with Clay will offer a one stop shopping experience for high quality expert resources in child development.
To learn more about Church of the Epiphany Day School, visit their website.