We know you want your child to have the best education possible. We want to help you as much as we can. If you have questions about your child’s rights and responsibilities as relates to a public education there are a few great resources for you. Global Down Syndrome Foundation has put together 5 Tips to Help Parents with School Team Conversations. Also, we’ve included below links to a training on how to put together your own IEP Binder. If you need help navigating these processes, please reach out to the office and we can connect you to resources in the community that can help you.
Click Here to see the 5 tips to help parents with school team conversations that are provided by educational experts.
As we get through our first two months back to school after the holidays, it is hard to believe we are on our way to summer break! In my role as the Education Specialist for the Sie Center for Down Syndrome at Children’s Hospital Colorado, I have the privilege of working with amazing kids, families and schools from all over the country in regards to their academic skill progression and school programming. It is at this time of the year, that I tend to find families entering into more challenging conversations with their school teams regarding instruction, growth and next steps for their child.
Here are a few tips to help with these courageous conversations:
Even though we are half way through the year, it is important as the year progresses to continue to take some time to get to know the team members that are working with your child each day. In order to have an effective and open team, I believe it is important to get to know your child’s teachers and service providers, and their preferred methods of communication.When is the best time of day to connect with them?What mode of communication works best?There is less of a chance of misunderstanding or misinterpretations if everyone on the team knows and understands each other.
Ask all your questions
Before heading into a meeting with your school team, make sure you take the time to review your child’s IEP and any, or all current paperwork. I tend to ask my families to look at them on their own and keep track of questions you have while reading through them. Once you have reviewed them individually, take time to sit down with your spouse or family support person and talk through the questions you both have to ensure nothing is being missed. Remember, to make the time to ask every question. IEP meetings are full of acronyms and jargon that may not make a lot of sense. Take a moment to stop the discussion and ask:“What does this mean for my child?”Try to remember that the teachers and school staff are involved to help and support your child, even if you may not agree with them.
Become a part of the school community
Of course IEP meetings and parent-teacher conferences are good opportunities to talk with the school team and learn about your child’s progress, but I would challenge you to look at other places to get involved in the school as well (and not just within the special education setting). What about the PTA, or the School Accountability Committee? By volunteering to be a part of those groups, you are allowing your voice as a parent of a child with Down syndrome to help guide discussion around curriculum changes, teacher staffing and the overall ‘mind-set’ of your school community.
Plan for next steps (but be ready for the curve in the road)
Always be open with your team about the next instructional goals you have for your child. I believe it is important to continue to have a target to push towards so that we do not settle with our expectations.
High Five, Fist Bump and Cheer every little success and step forward – not only does your child need that encouragement, but so does the staff working with him or her each day. When you see your child demonstrating a new skill at home that they have generalized from the school environment, share it with the team. Nothing feels better than getting to step back and taking a moment to see just how many little steps have come together to form a leap!
- Assistance Provide, Individual assistance over the phone and in-person to families who have questions about their child’s needs.Workshops for parents and professionals take place on an ongoing basis throughout Texas.
- Resources such as printed publications and online materials are available on a variety of relevant topics.
- Create an IEP binder
Whether you teach special education or general education classes, you profoundly impact Brazos Valley through your care, compassion, passion and dedication. Today, students with Down syndrome have opportunities they never had before and that’s because you believe in the ability of each child. You know that people with Down syndrome WANT to learn and CAN learn what typical students can. It is our goal to provide you with the resources you need to be the best educator you can be to people with Down syndrome. Below are some helpful tips and information that you can use in the classroom and share as training information for staff working with students with Down syndrome. As you plan your approach, remember to focus on their ABILITIES versus disabilities. When you believe people with Down syndrome can learn, they will. If there are things we can assist you with, please reach out. We are here to support you, too!