Riding a roller coaster with your child can be exhilarating, yet living on one from September through June is another thing entirely. The truth is, this is life for many parents of children with special education needs, and working parents often have the added pressures of work/life conflicts.
For some children, the start of a new school year can be terrific while for others, it’s a nightmare from day one. No doubt about it…parental preparation is key.
Often times, even with an IEP or 504 in place, issues emerge quickly with parents hearing things like this:
- My child's teacher refuses to allow my son to chew special items we provided from home to help him focus.
- We clearly explained at our spring IEP meeting that our daughter needs extra time to transition from class to class, yet we’ve received a note saying that she’s been late for class several times.
- Even though we agreed that homework will be limited to 30 minutes per night, we’re already spending triple that amount of time and behaviors are starting.
Here are three strategies to help:
- If your child shows signs early in September that things are not working, reconvene your IEP team. You should convene in September or early October anyway as your child has certainly changed over the summer and issues agreed upon in April may no longer apply.
- Speaking of summer, if your child made progress or regressed during this time, bring this information and data to your IEP team meeting. It's essential that everyone involved in teaching and supporting your child knows what has happened from June through September.
- If your child has been privately evaluated or re-evaluated over the summer and you understand and agree with the report, provide a copy to your district before heading into an IEP meeting. You want to give them sufficient time to review the documentation so that you're all on the same page during your discussions.
And the most important piece of advice is this – remember that your child is continually changing and as such, your child's IEP may need to change as well. It is a “living document” that must be reviewed and revised to reflect how your child is developing.
Your child's key advocate is you, so remember the 3 P’s: Be prepared. Be proactive. And pace yourself. This great business quote certainly applies -- "What you want, you will get. But you have to want it enough to go about getting it."