Understanding the Special Education Process

Whether you choose private or public education you need to be assured that your child is receiving maximum support in school. Often procedures and programs are overwhelming. In order to make informed decisions, it is important to understand the special education process and to know your rights. Although schools differ slightly when identifying children who qualify for special education services the process is fairly consistent between states. If your child is experiencing difficulties in any area of learning, your involvement benefits your child in many ways. The better informed you are as a parent the more effective the interventions become. The types of concerns addressed may include academics, behavior, social/emotional, and health issues. You may be the first to express a concern, or the school might notify you. Before your child can be identified as having special education needs, however, schools must follow certain guidelines. Pre-referral is an important part of the special education process.Pre-referral helps to make certain that your child is provided with appropriate modifications and accommodations before being referred for special education testing. These strategies may include, but are not limited to, physical placement in the classroom, presentation and modification of materials, as well as individualized behavior plans. Often the modifications and strategies that are recommended provide your child with enough support that academic performance is improved and special education services are not required.Different states refer to the child study team by different names. In some states the team is a function of general education, in others, the team is a part of the special education program. In any case, it is a school site committee whose primary function is to ensure that each child receives the most appropriate classroom support. The meetings are usually held in your child’s classroom or in an office at the school site, before or after school, allowing your child’s teacher to participate. By providing early identification and intervention for students who are experiencing difficulty in school, the child study team serves as a problem solving forum. The team works together in order to determine your child’s strengths and areas of difficulty. Your participation is very important. This is your opportunity to ask questions and provide critical information about your child. Members of the team will brainstorm in order to develop strategies and an action plan. Later the members will monitor, assess, and discuss the effectiveness of the implementation of the plan that was developed by the team. You have the right to ask questions and call additional meetings, if necessary. Team meeting notes will be taken and copies should be distributed to all members of the team. This documentation demonstrates that the school is providing your child with the legally required general education interventions. Team members vary depending on numerous factors. Often the general education teacher will be involved, as will a counselor, school psychologist, and/or an administrator. Teams may also include special education and related service providers. As the parent, you are an integral part of the team. While the school has the responsibility to invite you at a convenient time it is not absolutely required that you attend. It is however highly recommended as you have a wealth of information regarding your child’s preferred learning styles, health and educational history, behavior, personality traits, areas of difficulty, and strengths.Typically a meeting is scheduled when there is a concern regarding behavior or academic performance. Anyone who works with a child may make this referral, frequently in written form. Often it is the classroom teacher who requests the meeting. As a parent you also have the right to request a meeting by contacting your child’s teacher or the school principal. Each team member may provide information and make suggestions. The team begins by discussing your child’s strengths and interests, information is shared, and specific concerns will be addressed. The team will review interventions that have already been implemented and how successful they have been. The team will then brainstorm possible additional interventions and will determine which strategies will be put into action. Team members will then be assigned tasks that they will help implement or research. A time-line will be determined by the team. There will be a follow up meeting in order to assess the successfulness of the strategies. The team may determine that sufficient progress has been noted and that testing for special education is not needed at this time. It may be determined that the team will reconvene in order to implement new strategies and monitor progress. If insufficient progress has been noted, a referral for special education assessment may be recommended in order to evaluate whether or not your child may have some type of learning disability.The pre-referral process is one step in the special education process. It provides an excellent opportunity for you to collaborate with a team in order to insure that your child receive the most effective instruction designed to meet his or her unique needs. The process is most successful when it identifies and utilizes all available resources in order to appropriately support your child.The administrator or designee supports the team by presenting the agenda, directing the meeting, answering questions, providing information, and offering support to you and other team members. The general education teacher provides up to date information regarding your child. They will listen to information, help to clarify concerns, and participate in the development of behavioral and academic interventions.As the parent, you are a vital member of the team. Your presence at the meeting is invaluable as you will be asked to provide information pertaining to your child. These areas may include academic history, health and development, family matters, and social/emotional concerns. The information that you provide is confidential.Having your child attend depends on the appropriateness and relevance to the meeting. Your child may share his/her own perspective regarding areas of difficulty and specific needs.Special Education (SPED) support staff members may participate in both pre-referral and IEP meetings. During the pre-referral meetings, SPED and support staff members often participate due to their training and experience. Team members may include a school counselor, psychologist, nurse, speech pathologist, occupational and/or physical therapist, adapted physical education teacher, behavior specialists, and members from outside agencies. The team members may differ depending on the school but are available to provide information, answer questions, and gather resources that are designed to support your child. The gathering of information may include obtaining and reviewing records, consultations with you or staff members who work with your child, other teachers, and outside agencies. They may also observe your child in the classroom or outside on the playground. School support staff members make recommendations regarding strategies for designing and implementing interventions and modifications. SPED team members may also share information about eligibility, referrals, and documentation.While the special education process differs from state to state, the procedures are designed to help you and your child receive the maximum benefit from the educational system. Please check with your school and district to find out more about the specific procedures followed in your state and remember that you are your child’s best advocate.Note: There is a great deal of information available regarding special education resources and special needs education on the internet and in local bookstores.

Special Education – How to Help Your Child Excel This School Year!

Would you like to help your child that has a disability and is receiving special education services, have the best school year yet? Would you like to know about 5 things you can do, to help your child make this school year a success? This article will discuss 5 ways to help your child excel this school year.1. Open lines of communication with special education personnel.You can do this by:A. Start a communication notebook; a steno pad and rubber band work well for this. When a page is finished rubber band it to the cover, that way when you open the steno book, you will come to a blank page, or a new message. Encourage disability educators to write in the book daily; what has happened, what child has learned, positive comments about behavior etc. You can also write messages about your child; sick, tired, learned something new, difficulty at home etc. By doing this you and disability educators will be able to communicate on an ongoing basis.
B. Visit your child’s classroom the first week of school; and talk to the special education staff, that are working with your child. Tell them what works for your child, what upsets them, and your willingness to work together for the benefit of your child.
C. Call your child’s teacher occasionally to check in, and see how things are going. Is your child learning, are they struggling in a certain subject?2. Express the importance to all disability educators, of having high expectations for your child. With appropriate instruction, children with autism or other disabilities can learn academics at a similar rate to children without disabilities.You can do this by:A. Discussing this on your visit during the first week of school. Children will live up to our expectations; whether low or high.
B. Write a letter to your child’s teacher expressing how you believe that your child can learn academics, and are looking forward to working with the school for the benefit of your child. Include things that have worked for your child.3. Make special education personnel accountable for your child’s learning. Some children with learning disabilities or autism, may need a multi sensory reading program, in order to be a successful reader. Stand up and ask for a change in curriculum, if your child requires it.You can do this by:A. Asking for pre testing at the beginning of the school year, and post testing at the end of the school year. This will tell you where your child is starting academically, and how much they have learned over the school year.
B. Discuss homework with your child’s teacher; and anything you can do at home to increase their learning.
C. Keep copies of schoolwork, positive ones and things that you think your child needs more help on. Write letters when you need to, especially if you believe that your child needs more special education services.4. Learn about positive behavioral supports and how they are successful in increasing positive school behavior, while decreasing negative school behavior. Share the information that you learn with school personnel, and insist on the use of positive behavioral supports, rather than punishment.You can do this by:A. Reading a book or attending a training, that specifically promote the use of positive behavioral supports and plans.
B. Many disability organizations have information about positive behavioral supports on their Websites.5. Tell disability educators when they are doing positive things with your child that are working. This is done for three reasons: The first reason is because teachers need to hear when things are going well, and your child is learning. The second reason is that you are documenting what is working for your child for future school years. The third reason is that if you tell school staff when you are happy, they are more likely to listen when something goes wrong, and you are not happy.You can do this by:A. Verbally telling school staff when you are pleased. Also write letters that will be kept as a part of your child’s school record.By doing these 5 things you are increasing your child’s chances of having a wonderful productive school year.

Importance of Early Childhood Education

Early childhood generally encompasses the first eight years in the life of an individual. The education given during these years of a child’s life plays a very important role and helps in proper development of children. Early childhood education can be fundamentally termed as “Learning through play”. Recent research have shown that early eight years in any children life are crucial time because during this phase their brain develops and much of its ‘wiring’ is laid down. The education experiences and relationships a child has along with nutrition can actually affect child mental growth enormously. While good early childhood education helps the brain to develop in healthy ways, improper education or study without play on other hand may affect brain development in different manner. So the experiences and the learning of a child in early years can support them in their entire life.Recent studies of early childhood education have even shown some remarkable success. It resulting effects on child motivation and learning power last for a long time. Today where education has become very important role to play in a society, it is not right to postpone investing in children education until they become adults, nor wait till they reach school age. In fact early childhood is a vital phase of life in terms of a child’s intellectual, emotional and social development. Besides this, the most important point to know is that the growth of mental abilities is at an astounding rate and high proportion of learning takes place during this period.It is very important for every parent to understand that a child spends first eight years in realization of his or her own identity. These are very crucial years when children gain a sense of self and learn to associate themselves with the people around them. They develop an understanding and behavior to a certain extent. For this reason it is suggested that early childhood education during these years should be more focused on teaching children about the world around them through play and establish the links. Moreover, many child development experts also agree that play is very important in the learning and emotional development of children. A play can be multi-facet and often helps in educating different skills in children. In addition to this, education through play also helps them learn social skills, and develop values and ethics.Certainly, today it won’t be wrong to say that early childhood education is the key element that helps in building a god foundation for child’s educational success. Every child learns habit and form patterns that are not easily changed in later years. If parents and educators can develop productive early education patterns for the children in their charge, those children will be on their way to achieving great educational success. The lack of parental interaction during early childhood can negatively impact a child’s development. Ultimately it is the equal responsibility of the parents and tutors to assure the children have a good early childhood education that can further help them develop their personalities.