Effective Parents are Involved in Their Child’s Education
Through our work with parents of children involved in the special education system, we have seen what traits Here is the first in a series of tips on navigating the special education system.
Trait # 1: Effective parents are involved in their child’s education.
Hopefully, for every child, there is no one who is more knowledgeable about his or her strengths and weaknesses and more committed to his or her success than a parent. The federal statute that governs special education – the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) – recognizes the importance of parental participation in the educational process by designating the parents as members of their child’s team that makes all special education decisions. Effective parents see themselves as equal partners with their child’s teachers and school administrators, and they work to strike a fitting balance between unproductive “hovering” and appropriate participation in their child’s education.
Effective parents trust their child’s teachers but they don’t trust blindly. They realize that they have a responsibility to speak for their children to ensure that all staff members have an understanding of their disabilities and the best ways to address their needs. They recognize that it is important for them to be active participants in team meetings, contributing information and questioning decisions that they don’t understand. Effective parents ask questions when their child’s progress seems minimal or non-existent. They expect but don’t assume that service providers are qualified or that services are being delivered in compliance with the IEP, and they ask questions when they have reason to do so.
Effective parents find many ways to be involved in their child’s educational program. Certainly, attendance at parent-teacher conferences and participation in team meetings are musts. Many parents also volunteer in school and join special education councils and groups. They also know that simply talking to their child about his or her school day provides a wealth of information that is likely not available from any other source.
As in all worthy endeavors, information is the key to success, and effective parents both provide and obtain information about their child’s educational progress through watchful participation.
Written by: Jeffrey Sankey