With the beginning of the new school year, it is important to reflect on what our expectations are for our children, and how we can ensure a continuation of a successful, pleasant and smooth school year.
Let’s use a car trip as an analogy. While on a cross-country road trip, you would stop periodically to fill up the tank and make sure everything is running smoothly. With school starting a month ago, your child embarked on a ten-month journey. Before you get too far, stop and analyze how your child is doing at school and make a plan.
For a road trip, the first step is to check the status of your car and make sure everything is working properly. For your child’s journey, the first step is to check “his status”. What are his strengths? What are his challenges? Beware of the following signs:
▸▸ short attention for their age and grade
▸▸ trouble organizing assignments or activities
▸▸ difficulty initiating a task, unable to finish homework in an assigned time
If your child presents these signs, he might need support with his executive functioning skills. It is not about just telling him to pay attention and focus; it is understanding that his brain is wired differently and that he needs to acquire those skills by implementing specific strategies. Executive functions consist of several mental skills that help the brain organize and act on information. These skills enable people to plan, organize, remember things, prioritize, pay attention and get started on tasks. If there is a deficit, all activities that involve those skills might be negatively impacted.
The second step, after reviewing and analyzing the status of your car, is to fix all the defects to continue the trip. In your child’s case, if you suspect a certain type of challenge, it is imperative that you look for professional help, learn your rights, and acknowledge the options.
You have the right to request a free psychological evaluation and your child has the right to receive “free and appropriate education”. Moreover, you have the right to appeal any decision made by the school district related to eligibility or services. It is important to point out that if your child is eligible for special education, he could still be served in a regular classroom. Also, your child has the right to receive related services at school, such as speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy.
The last step is to make sure that all the parts in your car are working effectively. This holds true for your child as well. Once the plan (Individual Educational Plan) is created, make sure that every little detail (goals, strategies, services, accommodations) is perfectly designed and gives your child every advantage for a successful school year.
Celina Chocron is the founder of Special Needs 360. She has a Master’s degree in Special Education with Autism endorsement, as well as reading and ESOL endorsement. She has more than 20 years of experience as an ESE specialist, support facilitator, behavioral coach, special education teacher, pre-K and elementary school teacher, curriculum coordinator, and principal.
For more information, call 954-394-5265 or visit www.specialNeeds360Care.com.