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The Cooke Special Education Blog

Cooke faculty share their knowledge to improve the education experience for all children.

Out of His Head... Updates from Dr. Tabone (February)

Sharing Our Knowledge In Mumbai

Ginny Skar, Beth Sullivan and I travelled to Mumbai, India on behalf of Cooke. We visited and consulted at the Gateway School, Mumbai. The purpose of our visit was to work with the staff there to develop their adaptive skills programming as well as provide instructional strategies for those students with high needs. We were very excited to help the school and to spread the mission of Cooke overseas. It was a great collaboration.

This summer two students from Gateway, Mumbai attended our summer school program at the high school. The students were a wonderful addition to our program and developed friendships immediately. In fact, one of the student already knew several of our high school students. He attended Gateway (New York) in elementary school with several of our current Academy members.

Cooke has developed a solid reputation in working with students who have multiple needs requiring intense intervention. Our adaptive skills program is one of the strongest in the city and provides students with real life leaning experiences which support their independence in the world at large. We hope to do the same for students in India for whom programs are severely lacking.

Our work will have us busy consulting with all staff as well as running a workshop for parents on how to best work with their children to develop strong academic, language, and social/emotional skills. We will be sure to send pictures!

Click image to view more photos


Please attend our PSA meeting on Tuesday February 28th at 6pm at CCA (60 MacDougal Street).

The purpose of the meeting is twofold. First – Hannah Davis will lead a presentation on travel training for our students. All students young and older receive travel training at school regardless of their ability to travel independently. Ms. Davis will lead us on a tour of how to support and manage travel with your children.

Second the Street Fair is coming and we need everyone on board. May is around the corner and we will certainly need everyone to pitch in. The street fair is one of the highlights of our year. We look forward to a great day.

As always, food, drink, and child care is provided.


Schools and Parents Need More Training to Address Bias and Fears in the Current Political Climate.

What makes this election different is that it has been nasty and unfiltered, and many adults are confused and emotional themselves, so it can be hard to help kids understand these issues and personalities," says Judith Myers-Walls, professor emeritus of child development. "Parents should remember the election is not a single event, but rather an ongoing season that can be stressful and confusing for children. To understand any current event, children should have an idea of what is happening, who is involved, where it is happening and its significant elements.

To address some of these issues, parent advocates with the Coalition for Educational Justice said on Thursday they wanted New York City to better train public school staff on addressing incidents of bias in the schools, and engaging students who may be scared about possible deportation or their own safety. Parents gathered in front of the Department of Education headquarters said that even well-meaning teachers who created opportunities for students to talk about issues did not necessarily have the tools to take the next step and ease students' concerns. They said schools also should be pro-active in engaging students around issues of racism, bias against Muslims and anti-Semitism.

"Have some training for our teachers so that they are able to speak to our kids and see that our kids are really fearful right now," said Angela Martin, an advocate and a parent of an elementary school student in Brooklyn.

Advocates specifically called on the city to train teachers, parent coordinators and others to engage students on racist and anti-immigrant incidents. They also asked for more workshops to teach parents about their rights, in light of concerns about deportations, bias attacks and potential changes to health care.

Between 740,000 and 925,000 immigrant parents of U.S.-born children were deported in the decade spanning 2003 and 2013, leaving behind children at risk for significant negative emotional and behavioral outcomes.

Teachers and parents need to deal with these issues using the following guidelines provided by Purdue University:

The election is everywhere. Children can easily pick up political slogans, which are often catchy soundbites. The topic also is likely being discussed by their peers and at school. Discussing the election at the dinner table each night helps reinforce that it is OK to talk about and ask questions. A balance is healthy for children so spend time talking about other stuff, too.

Children need accurate election-related vocabulary. Give children words to help them communicate about what they believe. Our vocabulary can be difficult. For example, the differences between Democratic party and democracy or Republican party and a republic. If parents don't talk to them children will piece things together from peers, media, and their own imagination. Listen to what children are talking about. Correct any misunderstandings. It's OK to say, "I don't know that, let's see if we can find an answer together." This teaches them how to gather information. It also reminds them it is OK to ask parents questions.

Hearing about building a wall can be very concrete but confusing, especially for younger children. Children are afraid for themselves and other kids, especially when it comes to immigration and deportation. "Is there a way to talk about building bridges to help our friends?"

Fear. Explain to children that fear-mongering is an election strategy. "We don't know what will happen when a candidate is elected, but each side has an opinion." The prediction of doom can be scary to children.

Children learn by example. It's important for parents to monitor their actions. "How do you react when you hear a comment? Do you roll your eyes or scoff? Be aware that your kids will pick up on this. Instead, think about what values you want to teach them. Explain how you are going to make decisions in this election season. 'What is really important to me about someone who serves as president is …'" This helps children understand decision-making in the election.

Media exposure and media literacy. It's easier to control media exposure with younger kids, but they are more likely to misunderstand slogans. Children comprehend things literally. During the Gulf War, children found the slogan "No Blood for Oil" confusing. Parents should pay attention to children's misunderstandings and emotions. When kids are exposed to media, be there with them to help them understand it. When you see a political commercial or debate, questions to ask include "Who do you think they are trying to reach?" "Are they negative?" "What are they really saying?" or "Do they mention their political party affiliation?"

Use social media responsibly. Ask older children, "Have you received any messages from your friends about the election?" Talk about examples where people have said things over social media that are not well thought out. Teach children to never send a text message or post something without counting to 10 or reading it out loud. It's also important to double check who the message is being sent to.

Accepting differences and disagreeing. Help children learn a realistic way to deal with the world and disagreement. Saying "I can't hang out with you anymore" is not fair to children. A family member or friend voting for the other candidate can explain why they feel that way, so the child can learn how to listen to their friends and respect differences. Remind them it is OK to not agree on everything. Use other examples, such as favorite sports teams, to help them practice this skill beyond politics. Also, help them understand when it is best to step away from the discussion or how to change the topic.

Posted by rnicholson on Monday February 27
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