Helpful Hints and Tips for Education and Special Education
Support and maintain close contact with child's teacher to encourage student’s success.
When possible, call and make an appointment to observe your child in class and/or request a conference with your child's teacher.
Keep your child's school informed of changes in child's health, routine, medication, behavior, and home environment.
Insure that your child has adequate rest, nourishment, and health so that he/she is ready to learn.
Build your child's confidence by encouraging all learning efforts. Listen to your child!
Identify both strengths and needs of your child as you see them. Build on your child’s strengths!
Discuss homework alternatives.
Read and play games with your child.
Reward positive behavior. Always reward success!
Provide opportunities for your child to experience new learning situations and then discuss them.
Get to know the people who make decisions about your child’s education. Building positive relationships can be crucial to success! Such a relationship will help you feel more comfortable and help you feel as though someone hears your point of view.
Attend ALL IEP meetings and bring a list of possible questions, suggestions, and concerns.
Know who will be attending the IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting. Many parents, especially in their first IEP, will feel blindsided or intimidated when they walk into a room full of people, many of who you may not know.
Bring a support person or advocate with you, especially if the room is filled with people from the school system. Your support person will help level the playing field, make sure you do not become too stressed, make you take a break if needed, and help you get what you want our of the meeting.
Know your rights! Ask the school personnel to show you in writing where Federal or State law states something that does not sound right to you or states you may not want to do something that may not benefit your child.
Ask questions or for clarification if you don’t understand something. Let the team know at the start of the meeting that you would like them to explain any acronyms or special vocabulary to you as they speak!
Keep well-organized records. Keep everything related to your child with special needs, including past IEPs, test results, medication history, diagnoses, evaluation reports, daily behavior sheets, agendas, and all communications both written and verbal with teachers, administrators and other school personnel and service providers.
Take notes during telephone and face-to-face meetings and ask for people’s full names and contact information.
Keep all records in a binder, folder on a flash drive, or other technology you may have.
Make sure you ask and have any testing, draft IEP or evaluations PRIOR to the IEP team meeting!
Make sure you have reviewed your child’s records and identified any patterns of behaviors or changes which you would like to address. Once the change is made or issue addressed don’t allow that behavior become the focus of the meeting so you can move on to make more changes if needed.
Come to meetings prepared, and know the specific outcomes you want. Be clear, calm and direct when speaking and put EVERYTHING in writing. While assertiveness and persistence are important, anger and aggressiveness can work against you!
Know your child’s strengths and interests and share them with educators. Highlight your child’s capabilities and talents. You help the professionals know who your child is as a whole person.
Personalize your child! Remember you know him/her best! Bring a photograph to help keep the discussion student-focused.
Assist in identifying accommodations.
Focus on the BIG picture and emphasize solutions and identify ways to improve your child’s experience. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Try not to take things personally, and always consider both sides. Keep things in perspective! Think in terms of life success not only academic success!
Involve your child in decision making as early as you can. Learning disabilities are a lifelong issue. Mastering self advocacy skills is one of the keys to becoming a successful adult. Resist the urge to control and pave every road for your child.
Federal law requires that when a youth is in transition they must be included(if they choose to) in the IEP meeting when transition services are to be discussed.
Remember to focus on the strengths, not the weaknesses. Your child is not defined by his/hers learning disability. Focus on your child’s gifts and talents.
Don’t give up easily. If you are not satisfied with the schools response or the outcome of a meeting then try again or seek help!
Do recognize the limitations a school system may have. Too many regulations, limited funding meant that services and accommodations your child receives many not always be exactly what you want or envisioned. Help the school system think “outside the box” if needed and be creative to come up with ways, resources that may help fill the gaps.
Know what kind of learner your child is. A visual learner, auditory learner or kinesthetic learner? This will help you find solutions or accommodations that may help your child to be successful.
Be proactive and take action to resolve differences to achieve goals.
Help set realistic and attainable goals.
Take the IEP home to review it if you are unable to make a decision at the meeting. You are not required to sign it if you disagree with the IEP, even if you’re uncertain about whether you agree or not. Do sign that you attended the meeting. It’s almost always best to take it home and review it!
If you have serious doubts about the IEP, put those concerns in writing and return them to school with the unsigned IEP as soon as you can. You can request another meeting. Remember, you can always change your mind and withdraw permission for any or all parts of the IEP you agreed to.
Talk with your child so they understand any goals and objectives. That will help them understand what they are working on.
Note on a calendar the dates that you can expect to receive regular reports from the school on your child’s progress. Make sure you are receiving the reports in a timely manner and that they include all data and document your child’s progress.
Take care of yourself so you can stay focused. It is easy to get caught up in your child’s needs and forget about your own!
Communicate with your family and friends about your child’s issues or disabilities. Let then help and support you and your family!
Participate in parent groups to learn about special education.