Educating students is the responsibility of both parents and teachers. As the second semester begins, many parents are struggling with the realization that their children are not meeting goals outlined on the individual educational program (IEP) or other student improvement plan. Parents are willing to do their part in helping students meet goals addressed in the IEP, but often find themselves at a loss as to where to begin.
Throughout the school year, parents follow the suggestions given to them by school officials and classroom teachers. They provide their child with a distraction-free area at home to complete school assignments. They check over papers for accuracy before assignments are returned to teachers. Yet midway through the school year, many parents find their children struggling to meet the goals set at the IEP meeting. Often, progress reports and reports cards reflect poor grades in content areas.
No later than the beginning of second semester, parents must take the initiative to contact the school if their child is not making adequate progress. They should ask for a conference to discuss plans of action that would help get their child back on track for success. Parents need to inform school officials and teachers about schedules and routines that have been in place since the beginning of the school year. They may remind teachers that these schedules, routines, or other strategies implemented at home were the direct result of proposals made at the initial IEP meeting. Parents should share information with teachers regarding their child's strengths and special needs. The knowledge and experience that parents have is invaluable. When parents notice that their child is becoming overwhelmed by assignments, they should ask educators for possible solutions to help with this situation. Parents must also ensure that their child is given the necessary accommodations specified in the IEP. If necessary, parents may ask for some type of planning tool for their child, such as an agenda book to write down assignments and due dates. Many of these planning tools have a comments session that teachers and parents can use to correspond with each other regularly.
The following is a list of free resources intended especially for parents and other family members of students with disabilities. These resources offer an abundance of learning strategies, homework tips, and study skills designed to improve the overall progress of students with special needs.
Learning Disabilities Online (www.LDonline.org)
Schwab Learning (www.Schwablearning.org) (www.Sparktop.org)
Virginia Department of Education (http://www.doe.virginia.gov/special_ed/index.shtml)
Parent's Guide to Special Education (English and Spanish versions) (http://www.doe.virginia.gov/special_ed/parents/parents_guide.pdf [pdf])
Parent Ombudsman (http://www.doe.virginia.gov/special_ed/resolving_disputes/ombudsman/index.shtml)
Parent's Resource Centers (located in school divisions across the state) (http://www.doe.virginia.gov/special_ed/parents/parent_resource_centers.pdf) [pdf]
Berger, E.H. (2004). Parents as partners in education. Columbus, OH: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.
Callison, W.L. (2004). Raising test scores using parent involvement. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Education.
Capper, L. (1996). That's my child: Strategies for parents of children with disabilities. Washington, DC: Child & Family Press.
Date: February/March 2007