Monday, March 11, 2013

Advocating for Your Kids: Part 2: At School

by John.  

We all have been there. You are trying to get the right kind of help for your child in his or her school so your child will be successful.  
Getting help for your kids could be anything from just asking to have them moved closer to the teacher so they will feel more a part of what is going on, to getting them involved in a special education class or tutoring.  Whether it is a big request or a small one, working with your school isn’t always easy.
So, again, you know your child the best. You know his behavior, his triggers and how he learns the best. You know what motivates and frustrates him. How do you communicate all this and make what you know translate into a successful school experience for your troubled child?  Start here.
1.     Find persuasive people who can help you convince the school that your child needs help.
Ask medical doctors, psychiatrists, counselors, and teachers that have worked with your child, to write letters.  These letters should support your position in regards to any special needs or teaching approaches that will help your child’s academic career.
2.     Read up about your school and find out what your rights are as a parent or guardian. In my case   the child have an “agenda book” with the school rules in it and what the school will do for your child if they need help. It also has contact numbers for you to call if you don’t believe you’re getting the help your child deserves.

3.     Try to talk to the school staff before the school semester starts.  Start with the teacher of your child’s class.
a.     Never go to talk to teachers or any school staff upset or mad.  Always go with questions that you would like answers to.   If they can’t answer, them don’t get mad just ask where you go next to get the answer?  Always ask them how or what you can do to help them work better with your son or daughter.  Leave them thinking you are there to support them not to blame them or to fight.

4.      After you try to work things through with the classroom teachers, if you don’t see results, move up to the next step.  
a.     Sometimes the teachers will find themselves at a stalemate with the school hierarchy and need the parents to advocate and get involved. Working together, you may be able to get more help for your child within the school parameters.

5.     Now after you have entered the school system you have a “team.” some schools put together a team for you to work with.   You meet them at your IEP meeting.   
a.      If this did not happen, you will have to do it yourself.  You make a team up of people who will be working with your child directly.  Teachers, school counselors, even the nurse, principal, lead teachers and the school’s psychologist. (In most of my cases these people are also in direct contact with my kids, more then I hoped.)                                                                                                                                                            
6.      Get to know your team members personally and let them know what kind of help your child needs and why you are trying to get the kind of help you are asking for.                   
a.     Have all your documentation available for the meeting including your child’s behavioral history and list of triggers etc.
7.     At the IEP meeting if you can get your counselor to go to the meeting with you, that works the best.  They can talk for you about your child’s needs and can give the technical words that make everyone feel better so they can fill out the forms to get the help your asking for.

8.     Find other parents who are going through the same things you are and form a group. That way you can bring things up as one voice and this sometimes works when everything else fails.

9.     This is the one way I like to use the most. Be a friend to the school. Talk in private and go directly to whom you are having issues with. Tell them why you feel that this is hurting your son or daughter and ask them why won’t they help you?  Tell them you’re not trying to make waves but you love your child and you need their help. Then point out, in a nice way, how you could have done it, by getting mad and writing letters and making a scene at school board meetings, but you understand that they have a big job to do and you’re sure they are doing their best but somehow this mistake happened.   Then go on to say, “so how can we do what is best for my child and where do we go from here?”   

 Although this might sound passive-aggressive on paper, we want you to approach it as empathetically as possible, as you see that their job is hard and you are not trying to make it harder, just trying to do your best for your child.   Make friends not enemies.  

10.  Last thing is the first thing I do before I ever start anything.   I Pray and ask God to Guide me and my words that they may understand.

Do you have tips and have found successful ways in working with your school to get help for your special needs or troubled child? Please share your story with us!

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1 comment:

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