By Julianne Kelly, CFCC Student Fellow 2013-2014
How can we expect a child to succeed when the parent or caregiver is unequipped to assist the child? Children not only need assistance with homework and school projects, but also with social and emotional development.
Parents or caregivers who struggle with their own emotional, financial and/or mental problems often encounter challenges in addressing the needs of their children. Children need a stable home and caregivers who are equipped with the skills necessary to be successful parents. In order for children to reach their potential, it is useful to adopt a two-generation approach that focuses on a parent’s needs as well as those of the child. By addressing issues that affect parents, such as language barriers, financial problems, and educational need, we also help the child.
After all, how can we expect parents to help their children with homework, for instance, if they themselves cannot read? Assisting a child without assessing the parents’ or caregivers’ needs is like putting a cast on a broken leg without resetting the bone. Eventually, the leg may heal, but it will never heal correctly. The child’s needs will be met best by involving his/her caregiver, as well.
So what do we do? How can we best help parents or caregivers? A two-generation focus looks at each situation separately to determine the needs of the child and caregiver. The Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Children and the Courts (CFCC) understands the importance of parents and caregivers in the child’s life. CFCC Student Fellows are developing a parents’ workshop this fall to offer information to parents about student disabilities and where parents/caregivers can go for help within both the legal and education communities.
What other workshop topics do you think would be helpful? Is it helpful to consider parents’ needs when addressing a child’s problems in school?