Summer School for Parents:
Relax, Re-Evaluate, Prepare for Next Year

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June 24, 2008

ISSN: 1538-3202

Issue: 445
Subscribers: 63,061

In This Issue:

Take a Break! Relax, Lighten Up & Laugh!

Re-Evaluate: Look Back & Learn From Mistakes

Assignment#1: "The Blame Game"

Prepare for Next Year: Learn Advocacy Skills

What is Your Advocacy Style?

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Pete and Pam Wright
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P. O. Box 1008
Deltaville, VA 23043



Copyright 2008, Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright. All rights reserved. Please do NOT reprint or host on your web site without explicit permission.

Welcome Summer! As families and kids take a break from school, it's time for Summer School for Parents.

Summer School for Parents is a series of activities that will help you enjoy the summer and prepare for the next school year. In the weeks to come, you'll receive your assignments - and maybe even a quiz or two. When you complete the series, you'll get a certificate for a job well done!

How did it go at the IEP meetings this year? Were you able to maintain a positive parent-school relationship? Were stress levels too high?

It's time to relax, re-evaluate, and ratchet down that stress level by ramping up your advocacy skills.

In this issue of the Special Ed Advocate, you will find a summer "to do" list that will encourage you to spend time with friends and family, re-charge your batteries, and brush up on your advocacy skills and techniques.

Please don't hesitate to forward this issue to other families, friends, and colleagues.

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Take a Break! Relax, Lighten Up & Laugh!

Take care of yourself. If you are not careful, special education can consume your life.

  • Set aside time with your partner.
  • Schedule one-on-one time with each child.
  • Nurture friendships.
  • Ask friends for help.
  • Help others...

Read more Tips for Taking Care of Yourself.

Lighten Up & Laugh! Before you read this article, you should be warned.

If you are one of those humor-challenged individuals who believe THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING FUNNY ABOUT CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES, we urge you to stop reading now, and go back to biting your nails down to your elbow.

Parent Attorney Aimee Gilman will make you laugh and help you put things in perspective in The Lighter Side of Special Education: Parents and Kids.

Relax and Read. Always a good summer strategy. Pick any good book - and enjoy. Here is a recommendation from The Advocate's Bookstore:

All Kinds of Minds
by Mel Levine

One mom says, "I read All Kinds of Minds to my 6 year old. We both loved the stories about the children and their strengths and weaknesses. I recommend this book to families, educators and children who think they are the 'only ones' who can't achieve one thing or another."

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Re-Evaluate: Look Back & Learn from Mistakes

It's often difficult for parents of children with special educational needs to advocate calmly and objectively for the educational and related services their children need.

Here are some common Mistakes Parents Make that undermine their ability to obtain appropriate services. Which mistakes did you make?

Re-evaluate and re-think about your relationship with the school. Did your emotions - fear, disappointment or animosity - get in the way of obtaining a good program for your child? Learn from your mistakes.

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Assignment #1: The Blame Game

Your assignment this week includes a must read: The Blame Game: Are School Problems the Kids' Fault?

The most meaningful gift you can make to your child is the gift of a good education. To obtain an appropriate education for your child, you need to recognize obstacles you may encounter as you advocate.

In The Blame Game, you learn about "school culture," how schools work, and beliefs held by many people who work in schools. When you recognize obstacles, you can take steps to prevent problems before they get out of hand.

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Prepare for Next Year: Learn Advocacy Skills

"Failing to prepare is preparing to fail." - John Wooden, UCLA basketball coach

Begin now to learn effective advocacy skills and techniques. Find out how to avoid unnecessary power struggles and develop positive relationships with school personnel next year.

Pam Wright says, "Because parents and schools have different perceptions and expectations, disagreements are inevitable." But, there are better ways to obtain positive results than roaring through meetings like a Mack Truck.

Indiana Advocate Pat Howey explains these different perspectives and reasons for power struggles in Why Do Schools Draw Lines in the Sand?. Read her advice to parents about wisely using your power to obtain what you want.

What is Your Advocacy Style?

Do you work effectively with your school or IEP team? What is your advocacy style? Are you a:

  • pacifist
  • clinging vine
  • waiter
  • bombshell...

To find out what category you are in, read Assertiveness and Effective Parent Advocacy. Learn about assertive parents who express themselves clearly, directly, and without guilt.

An effective advocate knows how to knock down barriers and open doors. In Assertiveness and Effective Parent Advocacy, advocate Marie Sherrett shows you how to participate, plan for educational programs, and even get legislation passed.

How to Solve Problems and Protect Parent-School Relationships

You will negotiate with the school on your child's behalf for many years. Writing demanding letters or waving law at school personnel is not the way to succeed. As a parent, your goal is to get the school staff to want to help your child and your family.

Here's how. Read How to Solve Problems and Protect Parent-School Relationships. This excellent guide from Wrightslaw describes how to structure your relationship with the school so you focus on problem-solving, while also protecting parent-school relationships.

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What People Are Saying About The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter

"Thanks for the trustworthy information and support you provide through the Wrightslaw web site and newsletter. You helped our family act when we needed to - we are thriving now."


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Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, by Pam and Pete Wright Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind

Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board

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