When I get contacted by parents of students with special needs, it is usually at the crisis stage. One of the best things to do as a parent from the very beginning of your child’s educational career is to practice preventative maintenance!!!!! Be proactive, and be an involved parent. If you start as an involved partner to the process, you will feel less helpless when tough times arise, because you will have already formed a good working relationship with your child’s school. It doesn’t mean there won’t be any rough times, but the more proactive you are, the better off you will be. Here are some quick tips to get you started.
GETTING INVOLVED IN SCHOOL AND
- Introduce yourself to the classroom teacher as soon as possible and discuss with them any special circumstances with your child.
- Attend and participate in open houses, parent teacher conferences, IEP meetings and back to school nights.
- Volunteer in the classroom if at all possible.
- Check in with teachers using short chats, phone calls, or written notes.
- Be proactive—if there is something going on with the child that will affect school performance let the teacher know before hand.
- Take part in Parent Associations.
- Be a chaperone of school events or field trips.
- Attend your child’s sporting events, concerts, plays, etc.
- Ask questions—find out all the information and don’t jump to conclusions and overreact to situations. There are 2 (sometimes more) sides to every story.
- Communicate with school about both positive and negative things. Don’t contact school only about the bad things.
- Use of a communication log or book for students with special needs can help teachers and parents understand what has happened with the student during the day or evening.
- Ask questions and address situations right away. Don’t ignore problems or wait for the issues to build up before discussing them. The school won’t know if there is a problem if you don’t mention it, and they may be caught off guard with a huge issue that could have been “nipped in the bud” right away.