- 3 Comments
Ever wonder what makes or breaks providing adequate support for your child? Here are some interesting questions posted to Cognitive Development Learning Centre:
1. Why do you think fathers’ involvement in school is good for the child with special needs?
A child with special needs is just like any other ordinary child. The only issue they face is a higher level of difficulties in coping with society / studies as compared to their peers, but that does not mean that they are unaware of their surrounding / environment.
All children will look up to their parents – mother and father – for guidance and thus the father figure is as important as the mother. Fundamentally, couples need to agree with how their family culture would be like, how they would like to bring up their children, what kind of value system they would like to inculcate and agree on the roles and responsibilities that each of them will assume.
The conduct of the parents has great influence on the child and thus it is more important that both parties collaborate to bring up their children.
2. Apart from Parent support groups, how does your school reach out to parents to increase their involvement?
In Cognitive Development, we see our parents on a periodic basis to review, discuss and to agree on specific strategies to help their child to progress academically.
During our review sessions, other than academic discussion, we also engage parents in other parenting matters and offer simple tips and tools on behaviorial management and educational support at home. Such solutions would usually reinforce the child’s learning, thereby providing a holistic support for the child.
3. Do mothers or fathers make up a greater proportion of the Parent support group? (please give an estimate of the percentages by gender, if possible)
Asian culture is such that parents tend to keep parenting of special-needs children private.
Our parental support group tends to gear towards talks by experts rather than a forum for discussion. However, we realized that parents usually want a more practical approach towards parenting special-needs children.
Mothers make up of about 65% who attended the meeting. Of the 35% of father attending the meeting, only about 10% would contribute their ideas or ask questions.
To supplement the parent support group, we also have periodic 1 to 1 meetings with parents and we encourage both parents to meet us.
Based on this experience, we have the intention to realign our parent support group by creating smaller groups of parents to facilitate active discussion and sharing, with the objective of supporting our parents better.
4. What are some of the challenges you face in getting fathers to be more involved in their child’s programme?
5. What are some effective ways of targeting fathers more and addressing the barriers to their involvement?
(Ans for 4 & 5) As a private organization, we can only encourage both fathers and mothers to be involved in their child’s programme.
The encouragement includes small talks with parents to understand individual-specific parenting challenges. We also create opportunities for both father and mother to be involved in helping their child through demonstrating a few simple behavioral management techniques on their child to show that they can also do it. We notice that by showing simple techniques, parents tend to attempt to try and be involved.
6. What are some of the most common issues that arise in your feedback and discussion sessions with parents, particularly fathers?
Parenting a special-needs child tend to take up more time than usual. One of the common and important issues we observed is that couples are not spending enough time together.
In Cognitive Development, we encourage parents to take breaks from their children, which can be as short as an 1 hour. Without the presence of their child, it allow couples to bond, talk and just simply, be together.
Parents are the pillars of the family and are fundamentally an effective support of a special-needs child. Such temporary retreat provides couples an opportunity to re-energize.
7. Do you feel that fathers encounter different stresses from mothers with regard to managing a child with special needs? If so, what are some of the key stresses that fathers face?
Supporting a special child can be costly to the family, both financially and emotionally.
Financial challenge can be the costs of specialists help, lost of income resulting from mothers having to stay at home to look after the child and multiple tuition to cope with schoolwork.
Emotionally, it can be tiring and frustrating for parents to manage the child due to lack of training. Other emotional challenge can also include the feeling of helplessness, guilt and embarrassment.
8. Do most fathers seem to have a very clear understanding of their child’s diagnosis?
Yes, most of them have a clear understanding of their child’s challenges.
9. What do you feel are fathers’ general attitudes toward their special-needs child? Do you see many fathers who are committed to their special-needs children and are able to devote long hours to their physical and emotional care?
There is an increasing trend that fathers are more committed. However, most commitment is more on a macro basis rather than the daily affairs of the child.
It is not necessary to devote long hours with the child. Basically it all comes down to quality bonding activities like playing with the child, doing outdoor sports, board game or simply siting down for a chit-chat session with the child for 30 minutes. However, as a father, they would still need to manage their psychological barrier, especially in the areas of emotional challenge first.
A special-needs child possesses strengths as well, even though it might not be in their academics. In Cognitive Development, we have students who are very good in sailing, badminton, bowling and art. With some assistance, our children may start to do well in school. Accepting your child as special, being proud of what they are and treasuring every moment you spend with your child and family could bring the family closer and alleviate the emotional challenge of parents.
In addition, let’s not forget about the role of husbands as a provider of strength and morale support to his wife. All of us would agree that the foundation of a family rest on both couple, and not on merely on a party.
In families whereby the mother is managing the daily affairs of the child, it is good for the father to come in and provide his support whenever the mother faces difficulties in helping their child. This would not only built family bonding but also ensures that the wife take comfort, knowing that she has a caring and supportive husband to back her up.