In a child’s early years, parents play an important role in nurturing and teaching them various important skills. Children with special needs may require more time and more specialized guidance in developing particular skills, and parents are essential in guiding them to do so. Therapists may help a child build his/her foundations of knowledge, but parents can guide their children to improve more quickly and extensively by playing an active role in their therapy.
In order to know what their child needs, parents can communicate and work closely with their child’s therapist to enhance their child’s cognitive, behavioral, motor skills, etc. By doing so, parents can reinforce the skills that the child learnt during therapy. With continuous practice and learning to apply the skills to different situations at home, a child will be able to improve much faster.
In terms of language skills, parents can practice conversation skills and sentence formation with their child. By continuously practicing language skills that they have learnt in therapy and adapting it to different scenarios at home, children will be able to grasp the concept and generalize them better. For instance, a child learns to request his/her needs during therapy in the form “May I have _____ please?” Parents can then guide a child to practice this sentence structure at home when requesting for things that they want as well. To practice conversation skills, parents can also start by asking simple questions such as “What’s this?” or “Who is this?”, etc. By doing so, parents can facilitate their child’s learning by ensuring that he/she gets sufficient practice beyond therapy sessions. Time spent at home is much longer than time spent during therapy, and if this time is used effectively, children will show improvements. Research has also shown that parental involvement can positively impact a child’s expressive language skills and reading skills (Roberts and Kaiser 2011).
On top of that, parents can teach their children essential skills simply by playing with them. Playing allows a child to learn in a relatively stress-free manner through activities that he/she likes. It can teach children important skills like turn taking, expressing themselves better, creativity and social skills (Ginsburg 2007). Through play, parents get to understand their children better and bond with them as well. With parents’ active involvement in their children’s therapy and more time spent with them, parents become an integral source of support and encouragement for their child, which aids their emotional development.
Behavior-wise, previous research has shown that parental involvement helped to reduce children’s disruptive behaviors and improved functioning in their daily lives (Bearss et al. 2013). With more encouragements and reinforcing of desirable behaviors by parents, children will learn to regulate themselves better.
Nurture Pods provides home-based and center-based intervention where we communicate and work closely with parents in order to facilitate their children’s learning. Therapists will work with parents and caretakers to improve their children’s behavioral, communication, language skills, etc. For more information, click on the following link: https://www.nurturepods.com/
Bearss K, Johnson C, Handen B, Smith T, Scahill L. A pilot study of parent training in young children with autism spectrum disorders and disruptive behavior. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 2013;43(4):829–840.
Ginsburg, K. R. (2007, January 1). The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds. Retrieved from https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/119/1/182.
Roberts MY, Kaiser AP. The effectiveness of parent-implemented language interventions: A meta-analysis. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. 2011;20(3):180–199.