At the request of parents in our Monday support group and of the two teachers who were guest speakers last month, we are posting a series of tips for parents to help them help their students to a successful school year.
These will be posted over then next week or so in no particular order, and feel free to add comments or ask any questions you’d like—your responses and our replies can be kept off the blog and completely confidential.
Here are a few:
- One of our most important points, and the parents from the support group found this particularly helpful, is to remember you cannot remote control a person. Do not ever pick up your child from school during the school day for behavioral issues unless they are suspended from school. This is critical, because the school is 100% responsible for your child’s safety while they are at school. If your child has an exceptionality which involves behavioral issues, the school professionals must implement the tools needed to address these issues. Calling and reporting to parents and expecting parents to control student behavior as a result of that report is both unprofessional and unrealistic. While it is crucial to be a part of the IEP team and you are the expert on your child, and able to provide particular information, you are not the person responsible for controlling the behaviors at school. Neither is your child. While it is worthy to work toward helping the child to regulate behavior, if the student is not at a self-regulating level, they are not responsible for the behavioral control, either. They must be taught and it is up to the educational professionals to do that. This may take years, and it may take many professionals. If the team tells you they don’t have the tools, it is up to them to get the tools–and the personnel. If they tell you they cannot, they are being either unprofessional or are ignorant of the process of obtaining the necessary tools. None of that is your responsibility. Again, NEVER pick up your child from school for behavioral concerns during the school day unless the child is suspended. If the principal, teacher, or other staff tell you they cannot control the child, remind them to access the district personnel who can assist them. This comes straight from our exceptional student education guest speakers. If parents pick up out-of-control students, the teachers will never get the help up the chain of command, and the extra hands and tools in the classroom, which they may need.
- Make certain your child’s IEP is implemented in full from the first day of the school year
- Put every communication with educators in writing. If the assistant principal tells you at parent pick-up, for example, “Johnny had an excellent day today, I saw him being kind and helping a student who had fallen at recess,” go home and write an e-mail, “Thank you for sharing with me that Johnny helped another student on the playground at school today, September 8th, 2015. I appreciate the specific feedback.” If you want to request a parent/teacher conference, put it in an e-mail. Make hard copies of all correspondence. If you get a phone call from staff or faculty regarding your child, follow up with an e-mail rewording it. We cannot over-stress how vital this tip is. Although a freedom of information act request makes educators’ e-mails available to anyone in the public domain, student names are expunged. If you are uncomfortable putting in your child’s name, refer to the student by their alpha code.
- Volunteer at your student’s school
- Start this week getting your child into the sleep routines needed to be ready for the school year. Remember, the night before school starts they (and you!) may have a difficult time sleeping. Get the child used to having all electronics; i.e., games, computers, tablets, turned off at least an hour before bedtime.
- Think about taking the first day of school off from work, as you may feel frazzled from preparations and concerns, and doing something to pamper yourself—away from that empty house!