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Guide to Parent/Teacher Communications and School Meetings

Communication with Parents and Teachers-Students Working with Teachers In their book, A Parent's Guide to Special Education: Insider Advice on How to Navigate the System and Help Your Child Succeed, Linda Wilmshurst and Alan Brue address how recent changes in the federal special education law (IDEA 2004) and other federal laws can impact special education services for children today. The authors begin navigating the course by alerting parents to key questions that need to be addressed when charting the new territory of special education:

 

In A Parent's Guide to Special Education, the authors introduce parents to essential questions that they should ask about their child's education and then uses this guideline to answer questions throughout the remainder of the book:

 

We believe there is much that you can learn about special education by asking the right questions. However, if you do not know the right questions to ask, then it is virtually impossible to get the right answers. As school psychologists who have worked in public education for a number of years, we have prepared this guidebook to help you navigate a system that can be difficult and, at times, seemingly inaccessible. To get you started, in this chapter, we will address the Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How of the special education process and provide direction where you can access important information on several topics presented throughout this guidebook.


  • Who is responsible for deciding when a concern becomes a problem;
  • What do the complex educational laws and rules that regulate the special education process mean to your child;
  • Where to go for information, support and assistance in the early stages of early intervention;
  • Know When the education process should intervene and adjust to your child's special needs and the degree to which intervention is necessary. When to ask for an assessment and how to understand what the results mean;
  • Why it is important to know what services are available and the amount of assistance that your child will be receiving; and
  • How to advocate on behalf of your child. Understanding your rights and the fine art of negotiation, and mediation. (p. 2).

 

Did you know?


The biggest complaint many parents of children in special education have about the process is trying to obtain information in the early stages concerning the types of services that are available for their child. Furthermore, in one survey of parents of children in special education, an overwhelming 70% of those surveyed reported the belief that children lose out if parents are unaware of what their children are entitled to. (Johnson & Duffett, 2002)

 

After providing information on important changes in the laws and other federal legislation that impact the education of children with special needs, the authors turn their focus on psychological assessments and disability awareness from the insider perspective of two school psychologists. In this section, the authors explain how psychological assessments are conducted; what the results mean and the nature of different disabilities.

 

In Part III of their book, the authors provide Helpful Hints for Positive Parenting, as they share important ways to improve parent, school and child relationships and increase children's opportunities for success. The remaining excerpts are from Part III of the book:

 

Excerpts from Chapter 11: A Parent's Guide to Parent Teacher Communication and School Meetings

Did you know?

 

IDEA 2004 has made a greater effort to recognize the need for increased efficiency and effectiveness in streamlining education for students with disabilities by increasing convenience for parents to participate in their child's education and reducing the need for excessive paperwork for teachers

 

In support of the need to increase convenience for busy families, teleconferencing is just one of the suggestions that IDEA 2004 has put forth. In an attempt to assist parents in preparing for school meetings, the authors outline a six step process, including: List your concerns, Listen to the teacher, Ask questions, Be prepared to brainstorm, Be open to suggestions, and Remain positive. The following excerpts addresses step one and step four in the process:

 

Step One: List Your Concerns

We know that many parents may feel nervous when meeting with their child's teacher. Being prepared will almost always minimize your anxiety. How many times have you gone to the doctor's office with several concerns, only to realize later on that you forgot to mention one of them? We all do that, and some of us choose to write down our concerns before our appointment. The same applies when meeting with your teacher. Don't feel shy about pulling out an index card or a notepad with a listing of your concerns. You can always say something like, "I wrote down some of the things I wanted to talk about. I just wanted to be sure that I covered everything I wanted to ask." Your list should not necessarily include all of your concerns in paragraph or even sentence form. A numbered or bulleted list will be fine, unless you have a weak memory, and you can fill in the details during your discussion (pp. 148).

 

Step Four: Be Prepared to Brainstorm

The reason you are meeting with the teacher is because your child has problems with his behavior, academics, social skills, or some other issue, and perhaps in more than one of these areas. Brainstorming allows both you and your child's teacher the opportunity to generate creative and imaginative solutions to his challenges. There are many obvious solutions to many of these problems, but when those don't work, some creativity may be required. You and the teacher can work together to try and find solutions that will help your child in the classroom and at home.

Did you know?

 

Your school psychologist can be one of your best resources for brainstorming solutions for the problems your child is experiencing. The training and experience of school psychologists prepare them to work with children who appear to be resistant to typical interventions and may be termed by some as a "difficult case."
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