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Doing Your Homework:
Alternatives to Name-Calling & Other Behaviors We Will Regret

by Suzanne Heath, Research Editor, Wrightslaw

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Murphy's Law: Parent Version

Law # 1 - The only tape recording the school will never misplace is the one of you being sarcastic at an IEP meeting.

Law #2 - If you lose your mind and call someone a name during an IEP meeting, that person will be connected to your child, in some way, for the next 1,000 IEP meetings.

Behaving Well: Alternatives to Name-Calling

Children need parents to have the necessary skills to behave well in frustrating situations. They cannot afford their parents to lose tempers or waste time learning on the job.

You need to anticipate that you will be caught off guard during meetings. When you are upset, you need to have skills and strategies in place that you can rely upon.

These articles describe some alternatives to name-calling and other behaviors you will regret.

Crisis Management, Step-By Step - Virtually nothing from the school requires an immediate response from you. Avoid taking action when you are angry, frustrated or feeling threatened.

Assertiveness and Effective Parent Advocacy - Being assertive is not the same as auditioning for the "Bombastic Hall of Fame." In this short article, parent advocate Marie Sherrett describes the joys and challenges of parent advocacy.

Reasonable Expectations, Power Struggles, and Perspectives - As advocate Pat Howey says, "There is nothing wrong with disagreement. Problems come from the manner in which disagreements are handled. I have learned that there are better ways to obtain positive results than to roar through meetings in a Mack Truck."

Mistakes Parents Make - Because the stakes are so high, it is difficult for parents of children with special educational needs to advocate calmly and objectively for the educational and related services their children need. Parent attorney Bob Crabtree describes some common mistakes that undermine parents' ability to obtain appropriate services.

Learning About School Districts, School Teams, Gatekeepers

Your emotions will be easier to manage when you you learn about school districts, school teams, and the mission of public schools.

When you advocate for your child, you are likely to meet Gatekeepers. The Gatekeeper's job is to say, "No!" Read 10 Reasons Why Schools Say No.

What do you do when you meet a Gatekeeper? Do you accept "No"? Read
Gatekeepers: Their Job is to Say No.

Negotiating and Handling Disagreements

When Parents & Schools Disagree. Educational consultant Ruth Heitin describes common areas of disagreement between parents and schools and offers suggestions about how to handle these disagreements.

Learn more about advocacy strategies on Wrightslaw.


Meet Sue Whitney

Sue Whitney of Merrimack, New Hampshire, is the research editor for Wrightslaw.

Sue is the co-author of Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind (ISBN: 978-1-892320-12-4) that is published by Harbor House Law Press.

In Doing Your Homework, she writes about reading, research based instruction, No Child Left Behind, and creative strategies for using federal education standards to advocate for children and to improve public schools. Her articles have been reprinted by SchwabLearning.org, EducationNews.org, Bridges4Kids.org, The Beacon: Journal of Special Education Law and Practice, the Schafer Autism Report, and have been used in CLE presentations to attorneys. Sue Whitney's bio.

Sue has served on New Hampshire's Special Education State Advisory Committee on the Education of Students/Children with Disabilities (SAC) and has been a volunteer educational surrogate parent. She currently works with families as a special education advocate.

Copyright © 2002-2012 by Suzanne Whitney.



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