Our Parent Education Program here at St. Joseph's School for the Deaf is a parent-centered program, devised to help parents get the support they need in raising their Deaf children. The group meets once a week for 2 hours, and is run by our two school social workers.
The first hour is Sign Language hour. The parents continue to grow in their ability to both understand and use Sign. At times, both in Sign class, and in the supports group, there are opportunities to talk about Deaf culture, and how that culture impacts their children.
The second hour is a support group for parents to discuss topics of interest, concerns/questions they may have. The social workers often set up guest speakers (for example, how to play with your child, safe use of the internet, understanding Speech services, how to participate in the IEP process), and offer help teaching parents limit setting at home. The support group is multilingual including English, Sign and Spanish speaking parents. At time the parents meet in one of the participants' homes; this year, the group went to the home of a Deaf parent, and they were able to see how technology can be used in the home to make things accessible. The parents also have participated in Shared Reading, where they learn how to read stories to their Deaf children. Some parents then have come into their children's classrooms to share those stories.
The parents have formed friendships with one another as a result of the Parent Education group, allowing them to establish social networks (for example, having their children go on play dates, which often doesn't happen for Deaf children, because they don't attend a neighborhood school and it's hard to get together). Their commitment to the program shows in the growth we see in their children here in school reinforcing the concept of collaboration between home and school. Here at St. Joseph's School for the Deaf, we feel committed to working with our parents as part of what we offer the students in our school.
Our parents are also involved in:
- Special Events
- Parent Ed Picnics
- Community Resources
- Helping Hands (food pantry) for parents