I see many young parents stressing over which school would be the best for their child and which district is best. I have answered this question several times, based on 16 years of being a parent.
*There is NO ONE BEST THING that works for ALL our kids. *
There is a reason why we have an *Individualized* education Plan (IEP) which is to ensure the child’s experience is tailored based on their unique needs. Just know that the reason an IEP exists is because there is an achievement gap due to our child’s developmental difference compared to their Neuromajority peers and it is up to the school team to adapt teaching instruction to “bridge this gap”. Never lose sight of this, and do not ever let the conversation gravitate around “deficits or disability”. Pivot to strengths-based, goal oriented strategies. Work collaboratively towards solutions!
Teachers move, Paras move, if they dont move, that could be a problem of stagnating old practices too ! Remember it is “UP to us“ to hold each district accountable and each school site accountable for the educational experience they are preparing for our child. It is NOT their responsibility alone.
Special Education Teachers are NOT necessarily paid higher than Gen Ed teachers when they sometimes have the hardest task of customizing the lesson plan for every child. So, the impetus lies with us to
- push for “standards” in curriculum and teaching practices,
- working collaboratively with the IEP team to come up with age appropriate and competitive goals,
- track and monitor progress and ensure new goals are in place as soon as the child masters the skills.
It is also up to us to advocate for and ensure “childfind” is able to identify ALL areas of support - speech, occupational therapy, Behavior support, Physical therapy, Adapted PE etc. and ensure all those supports with granular goals are in place on our child’s education plan - IEP.
Remember, You need to track progress - ask for 6 week updates, ensure that you are aware how the assessments are being done, how the data is being collected and interpreted. Most importantly, know that You can always call an IEP anytime and you do not have to have all the answers. Involve your child in the decisionmaking process as much as you can, so you can build “agency” in them.
and Finally, BREATHE ! Not everyone on the school team is sitting there to deny services to your child- go with the assumption that they are your team; make them go to bat for you; Reach out to them; hold them accountable; Involve them in your child’s progress and little wins, as you would when you encounter challenges. and remember, Together, we will find a way !
*If you are a Special Education parent reading this and want to belong to a parent support group that is compassionate as much as they are relentless, Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
No one has all the answers, but we can all look for it together.