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  • 28 Aug 2012 9:52 AM | Lynne Adams (Administrator)
    Going back to school can be full of excitement, hope, anticipation, and anxiety, even fear.  Along with the hope that this year will be the year that all of the pieces will fit into place and your child will finally get the teacher that understands them, is the fear that this year will just be a repeat of the struggle and frustration of all the previous years. 

    Does it have to be that way?

    Are there steps that a parent or advocate can take to establish a good learning environment for the child?

    In this post I will give some helpful tips for going into the new school year with some strategies for creating a positive environment for your child's learning and building good relationships with the teacher and other school personnel that will be involved with your child.

    1. Attend any orientation or parent open house.  Offer to volunteer in the classroom or provide some classroom supplies (facial tissue, glue sticks, etc..)
    2. Ask for a parent conference (not a team meeting), to meet with the teacher.  Talk about your child's strengths, interests, and learning style.  Give the teacher insight into what works well with your child with their learning, focus, behavior, organization, etc. Let the teacher know that you want to work together throughout the school year for the benefit of your child.
    3. Establish a communication system between you and the teacher to keep up to date on what's happening in the classroom and at home. Good open communication can prevent small issues from becoming large problems.  It's important for your child when you establish a good rapport with the teacher.
    4. Be proactive.  If you start to see a behavior (like not wanting to go to school) let the teacher know so he/she can be aware of any issues that may be happening with the student.  This could be a situation where the student is either struggling with academics or maybe other students.  Kids usually act out to indicate when something is wrong.
    When I'm advocating for my son, I meet with the teacher at the beginning of the school year to establish a relationship and provide information, at the middle of the year (sometime around January) to see how things are going and reinforce the relationship, and then again a few weeks before the end of the school year to see what worked, where my son is academically, and to plan for next year.  These are not team meetings, just me and the teacher getting together for 20-30 minutes. 

    I find that this schedule keeps things running smoothly and in a positive way.  I don't go in with the attitude of blaming or pointing fingers, I go with the attitude of 'I'm here to help and work together for my son'.  My experience is that this is a good way to keep on top of what's happening and address concerns before they become major issues.  Of course, if I have a concern, I can always reconvene the team and address them more formally.  I can also relay the information that I've gathered at my son's annual review or three year re-eval meeting.

    Please share this post with anyone that you think might benefit from these tips.  Add any suggestions or helpful tips that you use by commenting below.

    Next blog post "Establishing good homework systems"

  • 18 Mar 2012 9:29 AM | Lynne Adams (Administrator)
    The federal government announces that the new 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design go into effect.  To see the entire notice click here.

    Basically, this act is established to protect people with disabilities from discrimination by requiring public buildings and businesses to be accessible to all, including those with disabilities.  This includes schools and daycare centers.  The full document is 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, which can be found at

    My understanding is that this is only for new construction or established buildings that can make simple and inexpensive modifications.  How many school buildings have I been in that are not wheelchair accessible.  The one that stands out to me is a highschool near my town that is an old historic building, but not a ramp in sight.  Inside the school, you have to only stay in a small part of the building if you can't access stairs due to there only being an elevator in one section of the building.  I guess it works for most students, but what about the staff and the parents. 

    The parent that I was with uses a walker for balance and strength.  The room where we were meeting was on the third floor and there were no elevators to get there.  I asked if there was another room where we could meet, and there weren't any other rooms.  This parent struggled up three flights of stairs. 

    I guess it is expensive to add elevators, but making another room available to accommodate disabilities is an easy fix.  Even with a law, there is still room for common sense, I hope?

    Share your stories of inaccessible buildings...

    This blog post was started by Lynne Adams, Special Education Advocate.  Please comment or start a conversation.  You can also find Lynne's blog at Special Ed Blogs,
  • 15 Mar 2012 12:01 PM | Lynne Adams (Administrator)
    Blogging is a great way to start important discussions about any topic, share something of interest, and to interact with people who share the same interests and views.  There's a blogging site that is specifically for special education bloggers.  This could be parents, advocates, therapists, teachers, attorneys, or anyone who has a connection to special education or disabilities.

    The basic version is completely free (you can upgrade and get more features, but not necessary).  You just sign up, pick a blog name, and you're on your way.   

    There's a great 'invite' feature, so once you set up your blog, just send an email to all of your contacts and let them know it's there. 

    Keep blogging on current topics and topics of interest and your visitors will keep coming back and will start to interact with you on your blog by commenting on your posts.

    So if you love to write and have something of interest to say...

    Special Ed Blogs could just be the place for you.

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