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Working With Your Child’s School

Posted on: September 29th, 2020

Ashley has trouble staying on task.  She forgets to raise her hand and calls out in class.  She’d much rather be daydreaming then do math.  Her hand writing is sloppy and she has trouble finishing what she starts.  

Damien is uncomfortable in social settings.  He is easily embarrassed by being called on and fears he will say something wrong.  He copes by shutting down, hiding his face, and not talking to anyone outside of his home.  

Michael has difficulty following directions.  He talks incessantly about Minecraft.  He struggles with reading.  He does not adjust well to change and struggles with transitions.  When overwhelmed with his work he yells, tantrums, and elopes.  

Three very different children, with a range of needs.  Ashley has ADHD, an educational disability.  Her fine motor skills are weak and she has poor executive functioning skills which impact her ability to effectively plan, organize, and complete her work.  Damien has social anxiety and selective mutism.  He is comfortable at home, but not outside it.  Teachers will need to understand how to effectively communicate with him during times of high anxiety.  Michael has autism and a learning disability in reading.  He also escalates when frustrated and tries to avoid his work.  If you can identify with any one of these children, you may have a child that may qualify for special services at school.

Did you know the school can offer tools or accommodations to lessen or compensate for your child’s needs at school?  Your child may have important legal rights to receive assistance at school, under federal and state law

www.ed.gov/index.jhtml and https://www.education.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx.  The two keys federal laws are the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act and Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  

Whether your child qualifies for assistance depends on the nature of your child’s disability and the kind of assistance he or she needs.  How do I determine if my child needs assistance?  According to Jeffrey Bernstein, psychologist, and author of 10 Days to Less Distracted Child:

  1. Talk to your child.  Find out what your child likes and dislikes about school and what kind of frustrations he or she is experiencing.
  2. Meet with your child’s team to communicate your concerns.  Listen to their feedback and see if changes can be made to the existing program in place.
  3. Take good data and keep all paperwork.  Do not be afraid to question things.
  4. Stay level-headed.  Be calm, firm, and non-controlling.
  5. If the situation does not improve, and academic or behavior struggles continue to affect education, you can request educational testing to rule out any additional learning or mental health concerns that may be impacting school.

Believe it or not parents, you are the expert on your child.  You are their best advocate when it comes to education, communicating concerns, improving learning, and maximizing your child’s success at school.  Working effectively with teachers and being cooperative, courteous, and responsive with the school will bring you the best chance of being heard when addressing your child’s needs.  

If you’d like to talk further about how to be an advocate for your child, contact met at SHCS.