As a speech-language pathologist who worked in the school trenches for 17 years, I’m familiar with the push and pull that can sometimes take place between parents and professionals. During this week of Better Hearing and Speech Month focused on school-aged children, let’s focus on those relationships.
If you work with challenging parents, you might want to try sharing some of these strategies with them. You can attribute them to to ASHA, if that makes the situation less awkward, to encourage a positive and productive relationship that could last for a year or two, or even longer. You could send them home with students or go over them with parents at IEP meetings or on back-to-school night.
- Let the SLP know how best to communicate with you—phone, email, notes in child’s backpack—and the best times to reach you.
- Stop by the SLP’s room on back-to-school nights and during parent-teacher conferences. Brief, personal contacts help build the relationship.
- Let the SLP know right away if you have a question or concern. Deal directly with the SLP, rather than through other staff.
- Make an appointment if you want to meet, rather than try to catch the SLP between students or in the hallway.
- SLPs may work more than one school. It may take longer for the SLP to get back to you if they are working elsewhere that day.
Trust and respect
- Give complete and accurate information about your child’s abilities and your concerns, and expect complete and accurate information in return from your SLP.
- If your child receives speech-language services from an SLP in private practice, share information with your school-based SLP. Understand that SLPs in private practice aren’t held to the same eligibility guidelines and can treat disorders that cannot be addressed in a school setting.
- If you can, consider giving back—donate tissues or hand sanitizer, volunteer to prepare materials, remember the SLP during parent-teacher organization meetings, or collect designated materials for an upcoming project.
- Prioritize meetings with the SLP and work with your child on speech-language “homework.”
- Let the SLP know when you see that your child is making progress.
Together, SLPs and parents can become true partners in success—working together to achieve the best possible outcomes for a child.
What are your best tips for fostering a productive partnership with parents? Share below.
Stacey Ellison Glasgow, MA, CCC-SLP, is ASHA associate director of school services. firstname.lastname@example.org