Educators around the world have been struggling to improve the quality of learning for their students with disabilities for years.
Now a new tool may help them find answers to some of the biggest questions in their lives: Is the teacher giving them the information they need, and can the teacher make sense of what they are saying?
For parents, it’s easy to understand that the answer is yes.
When a child has trouble understanding what’s being said, they can often become frustrated and feel discouraged.
This can result in more negative behaviors, which can lead to depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts.
But that’s not the only reason to be wary.
“You can get distracted by the teacher, but you can also get distracted when they’re telling you things,” said Julie Haggart, a certified child and family therapist who specializes in helping parents with learning issues.
“I don’t think parents need to fear that the teacher is going to go crazy, that’s just not how it works.
It’s a combination of the teacher being very good, but also the child being able to understand the teacher.”
As parents, we need to be aware that this can happen to us as well.
It may not be as easy as it sounds, Haggard said.
“In the first few weeks of having a child with a learning disability, you may think the teacher will just do what the parents say,” she said.
However, there is a process that needs to take place to help parents navigate the process of teaching.
Haggart said parents need a set of guidelines that guides them through the learning process.
She said that even though the parents may be on the same page on this point, it can be difficult for them to separate what’s good from what’s not, especially when the teacher may be trying to do the same thing for them.
“Sometimes you need to say to the parent, ‘I’m not going to trust you anymore,'” she said, adding that this may be a time when parents need more guidance.
“When you have a child who’s learning to read, for example, there’s a good chance that the parent may be reading to the child in a different way than the teacher should be.
You need to have that dialog.”
As Haggarts’ website suggests, teachers need to follow the guidelines and be transparent with parents so that they can make informed decisions.
The website includes some tools that teachers can use to help make the learning experience easier, such as asking questions, recording and sharing what the child is saying, and providing more personalized feedback.
“It is a good idea to have an understanding of the learning style of the child and then have an opportunity to get feedback from the child,” Haggars says.
“They need to know what they’re getting from the teacher and how they’re feeling about it.
This is the best time for them and the best place for them.”
Haggars said that a lot of times, the teachers may not know that the child has learning disabilities, which makes it harder to communicate to them.
She also said that teachers should be willing to listen to parents, especially parents who have different learning styles.
“I think teachers need a little more empathy and they need to really listen to the parents,” Hoggars said.
Parents need to ask questions, listen to their child, and give feedback when the child makes a mistake.
But in general, Hoggarts said, “If you’re trying to teach your child to read and you don’t want to take their eyes off of the screen, then you’re going to get a lot less than you want to.”
This story was produced by The Source, a partnership of the CBS News Digital News Initiative and the WCBS 880AM Chicago.