There are few experiences more emotional and intimidating for parents than to meet with a team of school professionals to discuss their child. How can parents feel more prepared for a meeting with the school team to discuss the child’s progress, or lack of progress, in a school environment? For some tips to consider and prepare for the next school team meeting read below:
1) Bring a picture of your child doing something he/she enjoys which can be shared or placed on the table to keep focus on the wonderful child the team is discussing.
2) Bring a trusted friend, family member or consultant to help you take notes of the discussion and remind you of the key points you want to cover to ensure that all your child’s needs are adequately considered.
3) Provide a summary of your parental concerns and recommendations to be included with the meeting notes. This note should be no more than one page and include your child’s strengths; how your child learns or behaves differently from other students; how your child responds in the classroom; and what strategies work best for your child in the school setting, based on information received from teachers in the past. Make enough copies to hand out to each attendee.
4) Be aware of the purpose of the meeting and discussion. School team meetings, IEP and 504 meetings, are required to follow legal procedures to ensure that your child’s education rights are properly administered. If you come prepared for the meeting discussion, you will have more confidence and opportunity to obtain the best outcome for your child.
5) You are your child’s best advocate! Nobody knows your child’s strengths, challenges and behaviors more than you. The school team is required to consider any outside evaluations and pertinent information you bring to share with the group.
You are an essential part of the discussion and your input is critical, even if the team is not in complete agreement with how to support your child in the education setting. Remember, the school personnel only sees your child in the school environment, it is up to you to share who your child is outside of school and make recommendations that you believe will work best for him or her in the education setting.
-By Catherine Adams, Education Consultant and Advocate