Parents, Be Vigilant from Day One!
In just a few days, a new school year will begin. Some children look forward to the new year with excitement and anticipation. Others, not so much! Some parents are eager to embark on a new year of learning and all the activities that enhance their children’s social and academic development. Then there are parents who are concerned, even frightened, because they know that their children learn differently. Will they be able to complete assignments with success? Will they have friends? Will they be victims of bullying? Will they be happy? Will the new teacher understand their child’s needs? To all parents, I encourage you to be vigilant, pay attention, and when necessary, advocate for your children.
Remember that the new teacher may not understand your child’s needs so it is imperative that parents are available to provide important information. This will prevent frustration and misunderstanding. If your child worked well with the teacher in the previous grade, you may want to ask her to meet with the current teacher to share the strategies that she used to help your child learn. We are a team. We must work together, share ideas and techniques to promote success.
Parents, don’t be afraid to share your knowledge and ask for the strategies your child needs. There are many strategies used in special education that can and should be used in the mainstream. For example, your child may need to sit close to the teacher and away from distractions. He may need alternate assignments or small group instruction. He may need help with writing his homework assignments and gathering all materials into his backpack. When we make these accommodations and modifications, we are teaching children the way they learn.
From day one, pay attention to the way your children behave when they return home from school each day. Are they happy and enthusiastic? Can they complete homework independently and without frustration? If the positive signs continue, you are off to a good start. But continue to pay attention.
What about those children who are sad, frustrated, even withdrawn when they return home? They may feel lonely and isolated because they have difficulty making friends. Are there signs of bullying? Everyone has a bad day from time to time, but when these signs appear day after day, you must find the reason for the problem and the solution to make positive changes. Make an appointment with the teacher immediately.
Parents, your intervention is essential. Do not wait weeks or months to meet with your child’s teacher to discuss alternative instruction and accommodations. Your child needs you now. He does not know how to advocate for himself. The time you take to meet with the teacher can prevent little problems from getting worse. Moreover, you will show her that you are involved and will work with her to help your child succeed. You are an integral part of the team, a winning team, with the greatest prize – success for our children!