It’s that time of year again. You know? School supplies, new teachers, new schedules… Okay, if I’m stressing you out just by mentioning those things then know this- you are not alone. I can’t help but think back to those mornings with my two daughters. As a working mom, I vividly recall the series of trials and errors (cartoons in the morning equals tardiness) that I had to overcome.
For many parents, and especially those who have a child with an IEP attending a new, nonpublic school like the Vista School can cause stress levels to skyrocket. So, what can be done? First, acknowledge it exists. Then acknowledge the stressors that your child’s teachers, administrators, and even the bus driver are experiencing too. Finally, recognize the source of that stress; expectations and the fear of failing to meet them.
At Vista Del Mar we realize that children want to be successful and do well. However, past difficulties in traditional school settings often leave them with the stress and fear of not being able to be successful this time around as well. What counters this self-fulfilling prophecy is a practice the Vista School staff implements called- the celebration of small successes. Our teachers understand the importance of acknowledging incremental efforts made by students so that they can gain confidence in themselves and their ability to be successful here at Vista Del Mar.
For example, if a student who typically struggles to focus can pay attention for five minutes, then we acknowledge that as an accomplishment. If a child maintains good behavior for an afternoon, that’s a success, and we make sure that that student knows it. The consistent, earned positive reinforcements change the narrative of “I can’t do this” to “I did do this!” It’s the small steps that can grow a child’s confidence and lead the path to a successful school year.
This can’t happen without you as a parent of course being a part of the process. The most important step a you can do is to keep the dialogue going between yourself and the school. By checking in regularly with your child’s teacher you can keep tabs on the areas your child is improving in, and areas they are having a more difficult time with. Then, those same positive reinforcement tools can be applied at home.