Special Education Tip # 3: Make a Record of Events
Team meetings can be fast-paced and confusing events that are often emotional, with many people offering varied opinions about your child’s progress. On the other hand, communications with teachers and administrators about your child occur more frequently than team meetings, but they are often short and informal and, sometimes, hard to remember. In both situations, important information is commonly shared about your child’s performance and his or her educational program which you may later wish that you had documented.
Parents often make the mistake of not writing things down as they occur. When you attend a team meeting, don’t rely on the school minutes as an accurate version of events. Be sure that you take your own notes or, better yet, bring someone with you whose sole job is to write down what occurs. It is important to make a record of what each team member said about your child’s performance.
Likewise, when you have discussions with teachers or administrators about your child, it is a good practice to document important information in writing. For example, if a teacher tells you that she is reducing your son’s homework because he is struggling with math, it is perfectly appropriate – and a good idea – to follow up by sending a polite email summarizing your conversation and asking to be kept informed about his progress. Remember, your emails and letters may be included in your child’s file. All correspondence should be based on facts and written in a cordial and unemotional style. Be sure to indicate the date on all correspondence.
In addition to correspondence, some parents find it useful to keep a journal or diary concerning important educational events. We find that parents who keep good records are much better prepared and organized in answering our questions about their child’s program.
In short, if it is important, write it down. Written records will serve you well if you ever need to document past events.