It’s the time of year that sends most special needs parents into a bit of fear. It’s the beginning of the school year and for us that means more than buying backpacks and lunch boxes.
It also means we’re thinking about our kids’ IEPs (Individualized Education Plan) and where our kids were educationally and developmentally at the end of the year and if there were regressions over the summer. All of think about their teachers this year – both regular ed and special ed – and how they will implement the requirements on their IEPs. There are any number of things we can (rightfully so) obsess over. Name any number of things related to our kids leaving our care and protection and be assured we’re worrying about that as well.
Every year as we enter school I think about the ways I can help our kids’ teams. How I can be a supportive parent for them? What can the teams do to help me navigate the new year, new grade and new goals?
We need each other. We need each other to be our best selves to serve our kids well.
What can parents do for teachers?
- Trust them. If you’ve never worked with them before you don’t have a reason to go into the year mistrusting them. Assume they’ll do everything right and thank them when they do.
- Ask them the best way to communicate with them throughout the year…email, written notes, calls. Tell them you want to make it easier on them.
- Send a note in during the first week (or day even!) and tell them how excited you are for the year and you’re looking forward to working with them.
- If you have a concern, put it in writing and give your teacher/s a chance (or more) to address it. Do not go to administration first. It says you don’t trust them and it’s not fair.
- Let them know throughout the year how much you appreciate them and copy their boss/es.
- When they make a recommendation to try something different to help your child, why not go with it even when you’re uneasy. You never know, right?
- Give teachers the benefit of the doubt.
What can teachers do for parents?
- Communicate with parents often. It’s what they love, they do.
- If there is a question about an items on the IEP, please reach out to other team members and the parents. Parents live by the IEP because it’s what your team has said their child needs.
- If a parent have addressed a concern, address or acknowledge it with them as soon as possible, even if to say you need a little bit of time to figure it out.
- It’s especially lovely when parents get a note about something terrific our kids have accomplished.
- Listen. Really listen. Parents know their kids best and you know education best.
- Please tell parents how they can support you at their home with education or behavior plans.
- Please tell parents if there is a device or supply that you think might help their children.
- Give parents the benefit of the doubt.
Happy First Day of School!
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