Parental & Community Involvement for Students with Learning Disabilities

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Parent and community involvement can make a big difference for all students, but it is especially important for those who struggle. This lesson follows Mrs. Baxter, the principal of fictional Park Elementary School, and explains how parental and community involvement can help students with learning disabilities.

Why Involvement Counts

Mrs. Baxter, the principal of Park Elementary, has always believed in the importance of getting parents and community members involved in education. Recently, though, she has learned more about how much this kind of involvement can impact students with learning disabilities, or discrepancies between students' cognitive capacities and their ability to learn and make progress in specific subject areas. Mrs. Baxter learns that parental and community involvement can help improve students' academic achievement, sense of self-worth, and awareness of options. She decides to make a big push to improve parental and community involvement for students with learning disabilities in her school.

Kinds of Parental Involvement

Mrs. Baxter begins by leading a series of workshops for teachers and parents. At these workshops, she gets specific about ways parents can get involved in the education of students with learning disabilities.

Demystification

Students with learning disabilities can benefit from demystification, or having their strengths and struggles explained to them clearly. Parents can sit down with their children and talk to them openly about how they learn and why they might struggle in certain areas.

Reading Together

It is important for all parents to read with their children, but this can be especially meaningful when students have disabilities that impact their language and literacy. Mrs. Baxter encourages parents at her school to read with their children every day, talk to their children about books, and help their children develop personalities as literate people regardless of their struggles.

Coming Into the Building

Mrs. Baxter also knows that for struggling students, it can make a huge difference just to see their parents' presence in the school building. She encourages teachers to hold potlucks, game nights, and festivals that bring students into school at times when they can celebrate their children's successes together.

Sharing Struggles

Even parents whose own children do not have learning disabilities may have struggled themselves as some point over the course of their education. Mrs. Baxter asks parents to come in and talk with classes about obstacles they have faced as learners and what they have done to overcome them and find their own strengths and potential. These stories can make a huge difference for students who feel as though they are alone in their struggles.

Kinds of Community Involvement

Mrs. Baxter knows that parental involvement is not the end of the story. It is also important to get the community at large involved in students' learning.

Community Service

Some children with learning disabilities may feel as though their whole day is spent in a classroom where they cannot showcase their strengths. Getting these children involved in community service and action projects can help them see that life is more than just school, and it can help them feel effective and meaningful in helping others.

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