Lynda W. Bates
When NACD parents become actively involved in their child’s developmental process they discover two scarcely known truths, truths which many parents and professionals have yet to realize.
First of all, parents discover that direct involvement with their child strengthens the parent-child relationship like few things can. Involvement, for NACD parents, means consistently carrying out the child’s individualized program. Some might be working toward helping their brain-injured child to develop an outline perception or perhaps to crawl for the first time. Others might be preparing their accelerated two-year-old to read his first book or to run his first mile. No matter what the child’s developmental level, parental involvement creates a closeness that both parent and child greatly appreciate and enjoy.
This bonding that evolves between parent and child is encouraging by the clarity with which the NACD programs are written. As parents continue to return to NACD on a quarterly basis, they receive a clearly written updated plan of stimulation suited especially for their child’s developmental needs. With it, parents understand what to teach, when to teach, and how often to teach. More importantly, they understand why they are teaching. They know exactly what they are trying to accomplish with their child.
Because of this clarity, parents enter into what is often a very challenging teaching situation filled with hope and feeling capable. They know that by consistently carrying out their written program, they can be the ones to affect positively their child’s development. This feeling of competency is vital to all parents, yet few actually enjoy it. As Robert J. Doman, Jr., Director of NACD, stresses, “The potential of children can only be realized if parents realize their potential.”
Attitudes developed along the way by both parent and child create increased feelings of self-worth and self-esteem. This, in turn, strengthens the parent-child relationship. The parent feels, “I am a competent parent.” The child understands, “My parents are truly interested in my development.” The child discovers, “My parents enjoy teaching me!”
The second important truth that NACD parents learn is that they can be the answer to their child’s developmental challenges. When parents combine their love, commitment, and unmatched dedication to their child with the knowledge and expertise they get from NACD, they find the answers they have been looking for and get the results they have been longing for.
In contrast, most parents of either brain-injured or accelerated children do not know where to find the answers concerning how to meet the special needs of their child. In their search, they spend a small fortune as they drift from professional to professional achieving disappointing results and feeling more confused than ever. What makes matters worse is that through these visits they are made to feel not only inadequate to directly help their own child, but as obstacles that stand in the way of the child’s progress. As Robert J. Doman, Jr., explains, “The professionals’ view is that they have to attempt to help the child in spite of the parent.” Feeling frustrated, these parents usually quit looking for answers or continue working with professionals who never really get to the root of how best to affect the child’s potential.
While NACD parents feel proficient and worthwhile, others often feel extremely discouraged and doubtful of their worth as parents. Mr. Doman explains, “Parents have often felt incapable of assuming an active role in the growth and development of their children, tending to leave the responsibility to the professionals. Parents are not the problem,” he emphasizes, “they are truly the solution!”
Think for a moment: what if every child knew that his parents enjoyed teaching him? What if all parents understood that they could be the key to unlocking their child’s potential? Who can put a price on the closeness that results from working with one’s own child? Who can estimate the value that both parent and child receive as they work together to overcome the child’s developmental challenges?
So, while mothers and fathers everywhere continue to search for ways not only to grow closer to their children but also to affect their developmental process, NACD parents enthusiastically announce, “We have found at least one sure way!” The formula is parental commitment combined with NACD expertise. It develops parents into capable teachers. It helps children reach their potential. And parental involvement becomes not the problem, but the true solution!
Ms. Bates is the mother of two boys. She resides in Utah and has worked for some years training Montessori teachers and as a consultant to RECEP, a state funded school in Provo, Utah. She attends Brigham Young University and has completed the N.A.C.D. profiling course.
Reprinted from the Journal of The NACD Foundation (formerly The National Academy for Child Development)