10 Ways to Be a Super Parent at School to Your Child With an I.E.P. or 504 Plan

  1. Understand your strength as a parent on the school team. Your insights about your child's personality at home are valuable to those working with your child at school. This information about the whole child, including unique strengths and challenges, is extremely helpful when creating a plan and choosing effective interventions that will help your child.

  2. Be open and honest about your observations of your child. The school will be able to determine an educational program, and is responsible to provide a free and appropriate education, in the least restrictive environment that will meet your child's needs.

  3. Give yourself grace. All parents make mistakes at some point, and when you model self forgiveness, your child learns from your example and will understand that it's normal and healthy to accept yourself, embracing mistakes along with celebrating positive characteristics too.

  4. Expect your child to make mistakes and remind yourself that mistakes are proof that they are trying. Also, remember that you're encouraging words, especially when your child has made a mistake, are how your child will learn to encourage herself in the future.

  5. Notice your child's strengths. Keep in mind this rule: each time your redirect your child, also find five positive things to notice about your child. These acknowledgements can be as small as a "thank you" for chore completion or pat on the back for just being in close proximity.

  6. Communicate with the school team on your child's strengths, and your desire that the team notice these qualities as much as possible. When your child is noticed for all that they are capable of, at school and at home, he will feel confident in his abilities and work to his best abilities.

  7. Be assertive and gracious in expecting scheduled, consistent communication from the school team. In general, this could occur via the child's case manager or another team member. While weekly correspondence is fairly common, should either the school team or you have an immediate concern, a face to face or phone conversation should be your first choice in order to make sure there is no confusion about the issue at hand.

  8. Ask for and share helpful resources to learn more about how to help your child be happy and see success, both in school and outside of school. If you are struggling with a specific situation at home, working with the assistance of the school team is a great option, given the number of professional student centered providers available in the school. Also, if a situation arises at school that you have experienced at home, share what has helped to alleviate the problem in the past. The school may be able to use your solution or create a similar solution, to benefit your child.

  9. Notice and thank school staff for their efforts with your child, including the communication you receive and any other interaction you or your child experience. School staff benefit from hearing, for example, how much your child likes the new class pet and your acknowledgment of the positive efforts is welcome feedback.

  10. Seek help if you and the school team are not productively working together. Should you find yourself at odds with a decision made about your child's program, speak to a trusted staff member or outside provider. You are your child's greatest asset in the school, and as such, are a valued member of the home school partnership. If your experience does not provide the results you desire for your child, you are entitled to a parent advocate, by law.

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