6 Educational Tips From a Mother Who Learned How to Advocate for Her Son.
My son struggled in school from the very beginning of kindergarten. His teacher suggested that he be retained in kindergarten. She said he was having much difficulty learning his letters and sounds. Since we were going to move to another school, she mentioned that it would not be such a change for him to be in kindergarten for the second time. What did I know about the signs of learning difficulties or disabilities?
He continued to struggle in school and I tried to get him tested for Special Education when he was in the second grade but he did not qualify at that time. It was his 6th grade Language Arts teacher who said that he was struggling and mentioned that he should get tested again for Special Ed. This time around he qualified since he was so far behind academically.
Does this sound so familar to you? Don’t let this happen to your child! Be Proactive! If you see your child struggle in school, don’t wait for a teacher to tell you that your child should be retained in school. Here are some helpful tips to help your child in school.
Learn the developmental stages of children.
Children develop and grow at different rates. Their pathways may differ through childhood but most will pass a set of predictable milestones along the way. The University of Michigan has a website on the developmental milestones and delayed development of children. http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/devmile.htm
Another great website is Zero To Three. This website has free brochures and guides that you can download. http://www.zerotothree.org/about-us/areas-of-expertise/free-parent-brochures-and-guides/
Look out for some common signs of learning disabilities.
Learn some of the characteristics that point to a learning disability. If something doesn’t seem right, don’t wait! LD Online has a guide “Taking the First Step” that you can download. http://www.ldonline.org/ldbasics/signs
Learn the California Curriculum State Standards for English language arts and Math for kindergarten through high school.
In 1997, California adopted its first set of content standards in English language arts and Math. These educational standards provide clear goals for student learning and helped teachers determine the knowledge and skills needed for students to be successful in school and careers. In 2010, California State Board of Education adopted new Common Core Standards (CCS), with California additions in English language arts and Math. This a link from the California Department of Education for the standards.
Request that your school test your child as soon as possible.
You have the right to request that your child get tested by the school they attend. Schools are required to identify and evaluate all children who may have a learning disability under the Child Find Mandate from birth through age 21. This also includes children in private and public schools. Below is a link from Wrightslaw.
Know your legal rights to advocate for your child in school.
It is important for a parent to learn the Special Education laws when your child has been tested. There are services or resources that are available for your child by being a vigilant advocate you can learn what they are. By preparing yourself prior to the IEP meeting and learning your legal rights, you can be ahead of the game. As parents, you have the right to be an active participant in the IEP decision making process. The Special Education process can be very overwhelming and the better prepared you are; the better your outcome will be. You can request to have an IEP meeting at any time if you are concerned about your child’s progress in school. Wrightslaw is a very good website from two parent lawyers who advocated for their children. I also have on my website an excellent book that I recommend to read. The Complete IEP Guide:How to Avocate for your Special Ed Child.
IEE – What is an IEE?
An independent education evaluation (IEE) is defined by federal law “as an evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner who is not employed by the public agency responsible for the child in question.” 34 C.F.R. 300.503.
If you are not satisfied with the test results of your child from the school your child attends you can obtain an independent evaluation. Generally, parents are responsible for the costs of an IEE. However, in some circumstances the school district may be financially responsible.