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Interview with Anna Hamlin

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group-shot-sm.jpg“It’s much more meaningful to be able to design interventions with kids when you have a better picture of their life at home.”

When teacher Anna Hamlin (far left in photo) first got started in early childhood special education, “most kids were seen in the classroom and without their parents present,” she says. “Parents would drop their kids off and pick them up later. I always felt completely disconnected with what was happening with the family at home.”

Working with both parents and their children in the classroom makes a big difference, she says. “Parents are a child’s first play partner, and children trust them to help guide them through the new and sometimes scary experiences they might encounter in a play group. With their parents by their side, children gain confidence to try new things and expand out of their comfort zone. For parents, it’s not only an awesome opportunity to have fun with their children but to ask questions and problem-solve concerns in real time.”

During a typical class day, Anna tries to make time with each family to see how things are going in the classroom and at home. “When an issue comes up, we tackle it head on in the classroom,” she says. “Often when a family has a particular question – behavioral or potty-training issues are always big ones – I ask other families to share strategies with each other. It is fun to watch a group of families grow together to support and nurture each child in the classroom.”

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