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Bridging the Gap: Fostering Consistency and Support for Twice-Exceptional Students

At the Lang school, our families work in collaboration with our faculty to bridge the gap between school and home. While this relationship is important for all students, it is especially important for our twice-exceptional (2e) learners. Recent research emphasizes the effectiveness of incorporating support and enrichment efforts alongside grade-level work rather than in isolation. While it may seem daunting to integrate support and enrichment scaffolding with grade-level curriculum design, the integration of these supports aligns well with our student learning needs. However, it makes the need for consistency across school and home more important than ever.

By fostering a positive classroom and home learning culture that encourages metacognition—thinking about thinking— and a level of comfort with making and fixing mistakes, educators and parents can instill in students a growth mindset that promotes resilience in the face of challenges. Creating opportunities at school and at home for students to practice thinking aloud, learning from their mistakes, and commiting on a daily basis to putting in the required effort has never been more important. At Lang, we provide students with choices as to how they want to demonstrate their understanding. Allowing students to showcase competency in diverse ways aligns with our mission and the idea of creating accommodations tailored to individual strengths. Recognizing that each child learns differently, providing choices for students to demonstrate their knowledge, fosters a sense of autonomy, and encourages them to showcase their strengths. This flexibility accommodates diverse learning styles and preferences and is most effective when students encounter support both in school and at home.

The importance of the Lang home-school partnership cannot be overstated. Collaboration with our families supports students as they endeavor to develop and maintain consistent work habits and behaviors. This effective partnership involves shared goals, information exchange, and opportunities for children to share their learning experiences. Teachers can leverage students' home experiences to design meaningful learning activities, which helps to strengthen the reciprocal relationship between home and school.

Research consistently highlights the positive impact of parental involvement on student outcomes. Beyond traditional involvement, true partnership entails collaboration between families and the schools. These partnerships involve collaborative relationships where shared goals, information, and responsibilities create a supportive and sustainable learning environment for the student. At Lang, we also recognize that the knowledge and skills gained through home experiences also enrich educational activities in which students engage while at school. By fostering positive relationships between home and school, teachers, parents, and support teams can build a supportive environment that leads to improved academic achievement and overall student well-being. This shared commitment reduces the likelihood of strained relations that may negatively impact student performance.

Communication remains the foundation of successful home-school collaboration. Given the challenges parents and teachers face in a post-Covid world, the establishment of open and consistent communication channels has never been more important. We believe that there are three simple strategies that empower parents at Lang to stay engaged with their child's education:

  1. asking open-ended questions about their day,

  2. reading and responding teacher/support team communications regularly, and

  3. proactive periodic check-ins with teachers about a student's progress.

Understanding the unique challenges faced by twice-exceptional students in developing executive functioning (EF) and social emotional learning (SEL) skills is also crucial for parents and teachers alike. Incorporating checklists and positive reinforcement systems helps our students to navigate tasks in school and at home more effectively. Our parents play a vital role in supporting their child's EF and SEL learning by advocating for accommodations in school, reinforcing coping strategies that are being developed in school, promoting a general orientation to committed hard work that supports resilience, and establishing consistent routines.

The upcoming winter break is always a special time for families, but it also represents a significant disruption to many of these important regular routines. Planning ahead and incorporating structure into the break can mitigate potential disruptions to these routines. Keeping children informed about schedule changes, relying on visuals, and incorporating familiar activities can help ease the transition during this period. For families, maintaining consistency during breaks involves active engagement. The following provide some practical tips:

Communication is Key: 

  • Ask open-ended questions to your child about how they are feeling. Make a Zones Check-In as a mindful moment and point of connection throughout the day. 

Understanding Executive Functions: 

  • Recognize the importance of executive functioning skills. Create checklists for tasks and activities to help children develop organizational skills and manage their responsibilities effectively. 

  • Following a checklist of steps can also minimize mental and emotional strain.  Example: Wake Up, Breakfast, Get Ready, Morning Event/Activity, Lunch, Afternoon Event/Activity, Independent Time, Dinner, Shower/Bath, Bed. 

Prepare for Changes in Routine:

  • School breaks disrupt routines. Use visuals, countdowns, and calendars to prepare children for changes; this can help to smooth transition.

  • Use visuals (a "social story") to help your child understand what is going to be happening

  • Count down the number of days before school ends and when school is about to start back up again.  This gives your child an awareness that there will be a change in schedules. 

  • A daily calendar can be very helpful during the winter break, especially to help your child anticipate any parties or family gatherings that you may be going to. 

  • During break, bedtimes are later, morning wake up time may not be normal, and there may not be a set schedule. Make sure you start getting back into your daily routine a few days before school starts so that the adjustment in January is a little easier. 

Plan for Social Gatherings:

  • Holidays can be a wonderful and memorable time for children.  It is important for all children to feel included and excited about the experiences during this time. It can also be challenging to attend social functions—there is a rush of activity, new faces and unfamiliar voices, which may cause kids to become fearful, over-stimulated, withdraw or act out. For kids who have difficulty regulating attention and/or become stimulated easily, the exaggerated embraces and loud noises can oftentimes be very confusing and overwhelming and interfere with desired pro-social behaviors.  If attending social events, prepare your child. Prepare a social story so your child knows exactly what to expect. 

  • Bring things that your child is familiar with and enjoys doing. This will give him/her/them a sense of comfort in unfamiliar surroundings. 

  • Speak to your hosts and arrange a comfort corner for your child to go to if the activities are too overwhelming. 

  • If your child doesn't cope well with large groups and centered attention, give relatives a heads up about approaching your child all at once. Bring noise canceling headphones to reduce the loud noises. 

Encourage Independence: 

  • Support your child's independence by providing simple tools and comforts. Acknowledge and reward small steps forward, fostering a sense of achievement.

Maintain a Balanced Schedule:

  • While breaks offer extra downtime, strive to maintain a balanced schedule. Incorporate surprises into the routine and engage in both family and independent activities. 

Supporting our twice-exceptional students requires a collaborative effort between families and schools. By embracing flexibility, promoting metacognition, and fostering genuine partnerships, we can create a shared committed that not only addresses the unique needs of our students, but also sets the stage for lifelong success. At The Lang School, the key lies in recognizing the importance of consistency, communication, and understanding in order to "bridge the gap" and strengthen the relationship between home and school.

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