June Downing Listen to June Downing’s advice on the benefits of parent/professional collaboration related to the Expanded Core Curriculum.


Hi, my name is Dr. June Downing. I’m a Professor Emeritus from California State University, Northridge.

What do you believe are the benefits of a parent/professional collaboration related to the expanded core curriculum? And are there any specific resources that you would recommend for parents to know about tactual communication skills?

Well, I don’t want to be too boastful here or proud, but a colleague of mine, Dr. Deborah Chen, and I recently published a book and DVD through American Foundation for the Blind on tactile strategies. And I think that’s got a lot of very practical ideas with regards to understanding the sense of touch and to assessing one’s own child and figuring out exactly how they approach the topic. And then you can watch the video that goes with the manual, and also the manual is in Spanish as well. So I think it might be a very helpful resource as well as other products that American Foundation for the Blind produces. There’s just a number of resources that are available to family members.

I also think just the importance of that parent/professional collaboration is very critical, I guess, of all families and of all educational situations and not just for children with special needs. We need to be working together. Education is a service. And it’s not something that a professional should say,”This is how we’re going to do it.” But it’s something that really should be guided, I feel, by the family—by the mother and father and extended family, and certainly, siblings should be involved as well. Teachers can only do so much, and they really need to be guided by the family as to what kind of service the family is interested in and what their goals are for their child and what their current situation is. So I think not having a professional say, “This is the way it’s going to be,” but having professionals and family members work collaboratively to realize a goal for their child. And then having everybody on board working toward that goal is a must.

And sharing the respect. I think professionals can learn a great deal by understanding the different cultures, the different linguistic environments that families are raising their child in. I think professionals need to really understand all about the different religious values and just the way the family organizes itself and the way it’s structured. That’s very important for professionals to gain that knowledge so that they can make them better working with other families. I just think that instead of families and professionals being at odds with one another and therefore being confusing to the child, everybody getting on board together, being respectful, being nonjudgmental, and really listening to the family with regards to the child—what do you want with the child, where do you want to go with your child. And then the professionals getting on board to help that and ease the way, if possible, and introduce new things and suggest ideas, but always, I think, with the family being the “guiding light,” if you will, to interventions that should occur.

Wonderful! Thank you very much.