How Can Parents Support Interventions at Home?

Frustration. Homework meltdowns. Exhaustion. Someone without a teaching or special education background can feel at a loss on how to best support their child’s progress and skill development at home. Feeling like YOU must support your child’s interventions at home while seamlessly managing all of your other life responsibilities is incredibly overwhelming.

Some parents feel as though they’re not good enough or that they’re failing their child because they don’t know what to do or how they are going to do it. I want to remind you that by showing a vested interest in your child’s education and success, YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB! Do not feel pressure to be your child’s tutor, speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, or gen ed teacher on top of already being their parent. Professionals already fill those roles so you can focus on being a parent first. You can maintain your primary role as parent while also supporting interventions at home.

There are many members of the special education and IEP team, and it’s crucial that they’re all on the same page about what’s working and what’s not working for your child.

Here are some ideas on how you can best support your child’s academic interventions at home.

Ask about what cues work best for that student.

A cue can be anything said or done to help your child initiate a task. They can be as simple as pointing to something you want them to look at, to something verbalized to assist them with the task. Every child responds differently to cues and that will vary with all children. What worked best for your son when he was working on his math homework in 3rd grade will not always have the same effect on your daughter when she is working on her 3rd grade math homework. Getting a list of tips and cues from your child’s teacher will help promote consistency in instruction and support.

Promote an open line of communication with the school team and ask questions.

This can be done via email, phone call, during parent-teacher conferences. Being in communication with your child’s school team will help all of you be on the same page and discuss any ideas or changes for your child. If you don’t understand why or how a cue works for a student, why the student is targeting that goal, or how an intervention program works, you will not fully be able to support the intervention at home. Asking questions promotes excellent discussion, allows everyone to feel heard, and builds trust between team members.

Familiarize yourself with the student’s IEP goals.

This will help you understand what your child’s specific needs are and what they are working toward this year. It will also help you become familiar with your child’s current ability level and create realistic expectations at home. For example, if your child is working on reading CVC words, you would not expect them to read Harry Potter to you before going to bed just because you read that when you were their age.

Put yourself in your child’s shoes.

Children tend to meltdown, push boundaries, and be more emotional at home where they feel comfortable compared to school. Once your child returns home in the afternoon, they have already had a long and challenging day at school, possibly trying to complete tasks they feel like they “fail” at, had a lot of sensory input, and had various interactions with their peers. They are likely cognitively exhausted, which may present itself as not “trying” during homework time. There are several ways you can encourage your child or reach a level of understanding with them, such as a check in about their day, talk about which parts of the homework are tricky, use a small rewards system such as picking dessert or their favorite show to watch later, and giving frequent breaks during homework time.

Ask for materials to use at home.

When you are talking with your child’s school team about what is working for them in their interventions, ask the team members for materials you can use at home. This can include practice words to read, activities to complete at home, special lined paper, pencil grips, etc. Using the same tools at home and at school can help your child be successful, while supporting the school’s interventions.

It’s important to remember that every family is different, every home life is different, and every child is different. What may work for your friend’s child may not work for yours. Working collaboratively with the school team can help you develop the best way to support your child at home. This will look different day to day as life is constantly changing. Remember to be gentle with yourself and give both you and your child grace during challenging times. You are both doing the best you can.

Red Square Pegs was established to empower dyslexics by embracing dyslexia through awareness and shared experiences and to be a symbol of acceptance, pride, and confidence.