Every so often I have a deviate on the blog from my usual strategy posts, and talk (or rant) about a subject that really matters to me.
And the truth is this matters. It really matters.
Because the truth is professionals – whether they are doctors, teachers, psychologists or support workers need to start listening to parents. Really listening. Not just token gesture, nodding and looking interested.
And the reality is, that doesn’t happen in enough cases. All too often parents are seen as an inconvenience, a distraction, an extra, something that takes the time away from the professional and from the child.
But it shouldn’t be that way.
We need to reframe the agenda, and look at things differently.
As professionals we spend hours trying to figure out exactly what motivates children, we analyse their behaviour, we talk to other professionals and we develop a way forward.
We are busy people. And believe me when I say, I know there are never enough hours in the day to do everything the way you would like to. Yes I’ll say it, there’s never enough time to do everything ‘properly’.
But what if instead of thinking of parents as a distraction, as something that takes our time and focus away – we saw them as well be assets they really are? What if we used the lifetime’s worth of knowledge they have on their child and listened to the strategies they suggested? What if we truly included them as part of the team, as decision makers, on par with the professionals?
What would happen then?
Magic would. That’s what would happen.
Because we wouldn’t spend every year reinventing the wheel. We wouldn’t waste time implementing ideas that had already been tried.
Instead we would have a joint strategy at home and at school. We would have children who knew that their team – their whole team – were on the same side working to their same goals.
We would have parents who no longer felt ignored, locked out of the process, frustrated that strategies they know can work, haven’t even been listened to.
And we would have professionals who instead of dreading the phone ringing, worrying how they would make time to meet with parents, instead looked forward to it. Because they would know that that meeting wasn’t about recriminations or apportioning blame. It was about working together and developing solutions.
The truth is budgets, whether they be in health or education, have never been more stretched.
We have to find new ways of working. We have to find new experts.
It’s time to shift the agenda.
It’s time to start listening to the people who know the children better than anyone else.