Is your child receiving the right support at school?
Sending a child off to school requires a large amount of trust between parents and educators. Parents need to feel that their son or daughter’s school is a safe learning environment. Parents need to trust that their child is being cared for while they are not present. For a parent of a child with special-needs, developing this trust can be even more difficult.
Parents of children with conditions like learning disabilities, autism, or attention deficit disorder, often have unique concerns about the support their child is receiving during school hours. If you are a parent or an educator, it is your responsibility to check in with each child, not only to ensure that he or she is receiving a quality education, but also to make sure that he or she feels safe and comfortable at school.
Each child has been blessed with the right to a quality education. To make sure your child is being supported correctly, follow these three rules:
Be involved with your child right from the start
Involve yourself in your child’s education from the first day of kindergarten all the way to high school graduation day. Attend award ceremonies, athletic competitions, concerts, and parent teacher conferences. Remember, a child learns more from their parent’s actions than their words. Your active participation in your child’s education will show them that you value the work that they are doing and that they are important to you. Being involved will also give you a chance to observe your child interacting with teachers and classmates in a school setting. If you feel something is off, or have concerns about the way your child is being treated, do not hesitate to schedule a meeting with the administrators of your child’s school.
Trust your instincts
Anytime you are concerned about the way your child is learning or behaving, do not brush it off. First, look for any abrupt changes in your child’s behavior. Take note if he or she seems upset, sad, or frustrated after school. If you notice that your child has suddenly become less talkative or that their sleeping or eating habits have changed, this may indicate that they are having problems at school.
If your instincts are telling you that something is off, have a conversation with your child to discuss your concerns. If you aren’t sure what questions to ask, consider asking the following questions:
- How are you being treated by teachers, aids, or classmates?
- Do you feel like you are learning?
- Do your teachers support your special needs?
- Do you feel safe and comfortable at school?
Depending on a child’s age and his or her specific condition, they may not be able to answer these questions. After speaking to your child, schedule a meeting with teachers and administrators at the school. Don’t be afraid to ask specific questions or ask for additional support for your child.
Develop a routine for your child
Children with special needs often feel most comfortable when following a routine. Setting specific rules and guidelines can provide structure and discipline.
- Start by making sure your child is getting enough sleep. Remember, adults may only need 8 hours of sleep but a child needs around 10 to be well rested.
- Make sure that your child is eating a nutritious breakfast and has healthy options available for lunch.
- Prepare your child for any changes that may happen, for example, if he or she is getting picked up from school by someone different; be sure to let them know. Surprises can throw a child off and leave them feeling uneasy.
- Set a specific time for homework. Use this time to see that your child is completing assignments and understands the class material.
Remember, you have a right to know what happens while your child is at school. As a parent it is your responsibility to take action if you feel your child isn’t receiving the proper support.
Submitted by: Molly Clarke