Today in the United States, nearly 1 in 3 children has atypical needs. So, let’s first define what I mean when I say — atypical needs. Atypical needs are deviations in the type of supports required to help a child reach their full potential. Such as additional time to finish a test or task, advanced home work since the child finishes too quickly, etc. To put numbers down, there are nearly:
- 6 million students supported by IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)
- 4 million students who have impromptu medical needs
- 8 million students who have English language learning needs
- 4 million students who are so smart that they outperform their peers and get bored in regular classes
That’s roughly 22 million children of the 57 million school going population. Why is this number important? Because nearly 40% of the 22 million won’t graduate high-school with a diploma. Why? Due to inconsistent and inadequate support from adults in their lives. Studies have shown that even if one adult is active in a child’s life it increases their chances of success significantly.
Countless studies conducted by the US Department of Education and the National Institute of health have indicated that collaborative child development yields consistent and positive outcomes for these students. Over a two year period, these studies found that children supported by a collaborative team (teachers, parents etc.) had increased self-worth, accuracy and completion of home and class work, and increased social, emotional, and academic competency. When a team of people are involved and sharing information, a cognitive bias called ‘empathy gap’ which is the leading cause of adversarial relationships, starts to dissipate and in turn increases trust and respect. Trust and respect are the basis of all successful relationships. Current adversarial relationships have cost schools and districts nearly $90 million annually on litigations for inadequate and inconsistent care and instructional support for these children.
So what is collaborative child development? How does someone enable such a team?
Collaborative child development is a co-ownership between multiple team members on a child’s outcomes by enabling a dialogue amongst each team member to provide input on what is working and not working for a child. It is the ability to work as a team in order to modify the necessary care and instruction needed for a child to reach their goals.
There are three major contributors to enabling collaborative teams:
Ownership: Creating action teams consisting of parents, teachers, and therapists (if involved) to have shared ownership on recording observations, making decisions and implementing the necessary interventions.
Effective Tools: Enabling a bi-directional communications amongst team members using daily notes, report cards, notebooks, or new applications such as Kidhoo.
Personalizing Support: Identifying and implementing interventions that account for various socio economic, environmental, and familial situations at home, in school, and in the community.
This is not a comprehensive list, merely somethings that worked for my son and what was identified in the studies I researched. So, to enhance this list I would love if you can share what you did to successfully enable such teams and how it impacted students in the comments below.
You can download the Infographic with links to the studies here: Enabling Collaborative Child Development