There’s a saying that when you have a child, it’s like having your heart walk around outside of your body. Never is that more true than when you have a child with special needs.
As a parent, you have monitored your child’s surroundings, their interactions, what they play with, who they play with, and how they are disciplined. Once your child goes to school, you have to let go a little and trust that someone else will take care of them and their needs. As a parent, this can cause a lot of anxiety. But there are things that you can do to ensure your child’s teacher is aware of your child’s needs and is taking care of them.
Conference with the Teacher Early in the School Year
As early in the school year as you can, it’s important for you to meet with your child’s teacher in person so you can talk about your child’s needs. This is a good time to go over an IEP (or Individualized Education Program) with them, explain your child’s path thus far, and tell them about the strategies that have succeeded for past teachers and therapists. It will also give you a chance to learn about how the teacher runs their classroom and attempt to put a game plan in place for anything that sounds like it may disrupt your child’s own process.
If you can, meet with the teacher in person. This will help establish a repertoire with the teacher early on and help the teacher to put a name to the face of the parent they will be reaching out to if anything goes wrong (or right!).
Talk to the Teacher with a Previous Teacher or Therapist
Sometimes you may feel like you simply don’t have the most accurate words to describe your child’s special needs. Having a meeting with the teacher that involves another professional who has experience with your child’s needs can help enhance everyone’s understanding of how they work best. Whether it’s a previous teacher, a social worker, or a psychologist, you can have someone accompany you to help everyone come to a clear understanding about your child’s special needs in the classroom.
Keep Open Communication
Establish with the teacher a way to keep updated on your child’s progress. Most teachers today have both phone numbers and email addresses to keep in touch with parents. Take advantage of both of these methods.
Have a discussion with the teacher about which ways work best for them to update you on your child’s progress and when you need to intervene. In addition to using email and the phone, some teachers use notebooks or weekly progress report forms that get sent home with the child. Decide with the teacher what works best for your situation in order to stay informed.
There are many ways to address your concerns with a teacher regarding your child’s special needs. What’s important is to take the necessary steps to reach out to that teacher. In the end, your efforts will help your child to succeed and to allay your own fears and anxiety.
Reach out to them, stay informed, and remember that they are there to help ensure your child’s success. By working together, your child will be able to achieve in a safe environment that works for everyone.