Getting reports from school with constant descriptions of what isn’t going well is no fun.
You know there must be parts of the day that go well for your child and you wished you would hear about those times.
What if your child could be successful in every part of his/her school day?
Well you’re in the right place. Today we’ll look at 5 simple Advocacy Action Steps you can take to make sure the second half of this school year is packed full of strategies to help your child get the education he/she deserves.
Step 1: Talk with the staff that work with your child and ask what parts of the day go well for your child.
Have conversations with the different staff members that work with your child throughout the day. Focus on what is working for your child.
Step 2: Have a new set of eyes observe your child during those successful parts of the day.
You could ask your advocate to observe. If you don’t have an advocate you could ask the school psychologist or another person on your child’s team to observe your child.
Step 3: Identify what the factors are that seem to be helping your child be more successful.
You want the person observing to pay particular attention to these variables.
Step 4: Have a meeting with the staff and see how these factors can be replicated in other areas at school.
Sit down with your child’s classroom teacher, special education teacher, and the person who did the observations. Talk about what factors were noticed during the observation that may change how successful your child is.
Step 5: Try it, if it works, add it to the IEP.
Get buy in from your child’s teacher to try some of the new strategies that are working in other places at school. If these make a positive difference, call for a meeting to amend the IEP. The new strategies could be added to the accommodations/modifications section of the IEP. If your child has a Behavior Intervention Plan, it may be appropriate to add these in the Behavior Plan.
Let’s look at an example of what I’m talking about. There was a family I was working with. Their son was in kindergarten and he loved going to Music class. This also was the time when he was the happiest and most successful at school. So, we wanted to figure out what was happening in Music class that helped Jesse be so successful there.
We identified several factors: the Music teacher allowed the kids to sit, stand, or move around as long as they were singing along; a little girl that was his friend and neighbor would give Jesse subtle, nonverbal prompts if he started getting off task; and the Music teacher would also give Jesse frequent high-fives when he was singing along.
So, we took this information back to his kindergarten teacher and had an informal talk with her. She was all on board with giving Jesse more choices of how to do his work – sit, stand, or move around as long as he was still participating with the class activities. She was fine with giving him High-Fives when he was doing well. The one thing she wasn’t too keen on was having his friend sit next to him.
We decided to try the first two ideas, more movement and High-Fives and see if that helped him be more successful in the kindergarten class. And guess what? Just making those two changes made a big difference for Jesse in his classroom!
Sometimes we need to be more like detectives. Observe what is happening in different places at school, figure out what the factors are that are working and then see how they can be replicated in other settings.
Now, you may not always find a teacher that is willing to try something different. So, let me give you a Bonus Tip: If you find yourself in this kind of situation, one of the things you can try is to have another teacher in the building be the one to share new ideas with your classroom teacher. From my experience of being both a special education teacher and classroom teacher I’ve noticed that many teachers are more willing to accept new strategies from a colleague vs. a parent. Give this bonus tip a try!
If you found these tips helpful share this blog post with a friend. The two of you can encourage each other to take these 5 steps to figure out what’s working for your child at school and how that can help your child be successful in other areas at school.
The frustration we looked at today is when you know your child is doing well in one area of school, but not others. You learned 5 simple Advocacy Action steps you can do to make 2017 an awesome year for your child!
Stay positive and know there are a lot of things going right for your child. Now we just need to make sure the teachers, Go With What’s Working.