When you attend IEP meetings, you represent your child’s interests. Your goals are to:
- negotiate with the school
- obtain quality special education services for your child
- build healthy working relationships with school personnel
Who is your child’s first teacher? You are.
Who is your child’s most important role model? You are.
Who is responsible for your child’s welfare? You are.
Who has your child’s best interests at heart? You do.
Effective parent advocates avoid these four mistakes.
1. Failing to make a long term plan for their child’s education or the future
Some parents don’t think about the future until it’s here. They don’t have long-range goals for their child when he leaves public school. They don’t have a plan.
Your child’s special education is a long-term project.
A plan will help you stay focused, anticipate problems, and prepare for the future.
Your plan should include…
academic and behavioral, social, and emotional goals that include hobbies, personal interests, sports and fitness, family, friendships, and the community.
Your plan should be revisited and revised as your child grows.
2. Not understanding their child’s disability and allowing the school to make decisions about their child’s special education
Some parents don’t understand their child’s disability, how the disability affects the child’s learning, or how the child needs to be taught.
If you do not ensure that your child receives an appropriate education and learns the skills necessary to be an independent, self-sufficient member of the community, you will deal with the outcome long past childhood.
If you are tempted to lower your expectations, consider this: Your child will internalize your low expectations.
A vicious cycle begins. Low expectations lead to low achievement.
3. Forgetting to keep your emotions under control
As a parent, your emotions may be your Achilles’ heel.
If you are like many parents, when you learn that your child has a disability, you turn to school personnel and medical specialists for help.
If you and the school disagree about what is appropriate for your child, you may feel shocked and angry.
You may feel betrayed by the system you trusted. Once lost, trust is hard to regain.
4. Not documenting events and conversations in writing
One common mistake parents make is not writing things down as they happen.
When you write things down – in a letter, log, or journal – you are taking steps to protect your child’s interests.
In general the best way to document events and problems is by writing short polite letters to the school.
Describe what happened or what you were told. Use facts, not emotions.
Your letters will become part of your child’s file.
Be sure to keep a copy of all correspondence for your records.
Avoiding Mistakes – Wrightslaw Back to School 2018