By now, the first school term is over, or nearly over. You’ve probably been seeing more signs of how well your child is handling schoolwork and expectations—papers sent home with grades and comments, tests, book reports, etc. Some schools have a site or portal where parents can check their children’s grades almost in “real time”—every quiz, lab report or other piece of work is entered, with a grade—though this is more common in high school.
This information is helpful, but for a child with special needs, it may not be enough. In fact, at this time of year, I start getting calls from parents who are worried: “my child doesn’t understand the book they’re reading”; “they’re teaching math a funny way and I can’t help with homework”; “he doesn’t want to go to school”; “he says there’s too much noise”; “the teacher talks too fast”, etc. Sound like your house? Here are some steps to take to help your child:
- Remember the triangle of communication that shows equal communication in both directions between parents, school, and child. You have to make sure those arrows are working in all directions to support your child.
- Talk to your child. Ask questions, especially about areas of weakness. Ask about specialist services such as speech or a lunch group or academic support. Is your child getting services on the schedule listed in the IEP?
- Look at the homework. See if you can tell which subjects are giving your child the most trouble. If there is too little homework, make a note of this for a week or so.
- Schedule a Team meeting to discuss your child’s concerns. Regular teacher conferences are too short for parents of kids with special needs
- Put regular communication in place, with more than one teacher if necessary. Make sure your concerns and the teachers’ responses are in writing—preferably in an actual book.
- A communication book is a key tool for monitoring effective progress for your child with special needs, on a day to day basis
Remember, you are the expert on your child. Make sure your concerns are heard and responded to, in the best way you can manage. This will help your child to learn and be successful. If you run into problems, you may need to move to the next steps in helping your child. These steps are available in my book, on my website, and in consultation with many advocates. DON’T GIVE UP.
As always, please contact me with any questions, or leave comments on my Facebook page.