Tips for Being An Effective Advocate for Your Child’s Education

Although the school system is designed to provide the best education possible, things don’t always go the way they are supposed to. Teachers can get forget something, paperwork can get lost, and children can have interpersonal issues with other children and adults, among any number of other things. Parents need to have the skills and knowledge to be advocates for their children to ensure these things don’t negatively impact their child or their child’s education.What is an advocate?Simply put, an advocate is anyone who acts on behalf of the rights of the child. This can be parents, teachers, or any person who works to protect the child’s rights. For most children, their first and best advocates are their parents. Parents can best advocate for the child’s educational and other rights with more conviction and knowledge than any other person because parents know their children better than anyone else.The role of the school is to provide an appropriate education for the children, but the school cannot really be an effective advocate for every child in attendance. The school is really involved with the children for a few hours each day, while parents are involved for life. This makes it extremely important that parents become active participants in each child’s education.Tips for Advocating for Your Child
Participate in school activities such as, orientation, back-to-school night, open house, workshops, and social events.
Volunteer in the classroom. This is perhaps the most important thing a parent can do because it allows the parent to see the child, other children and teacher and how they interact first hand. It also builds positive rapport with the teacher.
Be involved with the parent committee or counsel (such as PTA). Being involved in the decision making gives parents another avenue to learn what is going on and to be heard.
Know your rights and the rights of your child. These are usually enumerated in school and district publications.
Know the school policies and read the parent handbook. Again, this is to ensure parents know what is going on and how it affects their children.
Communicate with the teacher. Keeping positive, open communication with the teacher can ensure that the teacher will listen and respond if there is a problem. This goes hand-in-hand with volunteering in the classroom, if parents are there, teachers are more likely to listen and act when there are problems.
Ask questions and stay informed.
Participate in parent-teacher conferences.
Keep a positive, open mind about your own child’s development and educational progress. Many parents have difficulties because they don’t really know how their child is progressing which can cause conflict with teachers and other staff.
Consider the advice of professionals when there are questions about the child’s development or educational progress. Teachers and other school professionals are highly-trained and know what they are talking about.
Get the facts. Educate yourself on how the school system works and your child’s rights within the system.
Doing these simple things can ensure your child gets the education you want and that you child deserves. Parents who are involved and ask questions are more likely to have their child’s issues addressed. With just a little involvement, parents can make a world of difference for their children.

5 Things to Know About Free Appropriate Public Education and Special Education

Do you have a child with autism or a learning disability and you are concerned about their education? Does your child with Dyslexia struggle with their academics even though they are receiving special education services? Free Appropriate Public Education is a right for all children receiving special education services. This article will discuss 5 things that you will need to know about FAPE, to help your child receive it.1. The legal definition of FAPE is: special education and related services that are designed to meet the child’s unique needs, gives meaningful benefit, and has been given at no charge to the parents. Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) includes and Individual Education Plan that is designed to meet the child’s unique educational needs and gives meaningful benefit.2. The Supreme Court Case that gave us this definition of FAPE is Board of Education Vs. Rowley 458 US 176 in 1982. You may be able to use this case in the future if you have a dispute with your school district over FAPE.3. In the Rowley Case the justices determined that there are two areas that must be met to determine if a child with a disability is receiving FAPE:A. Procedural Requirements: Did the district follow the correct procedural requirements and provisions in developing the child’s IEP?B. Will the IEP developed by the school district give the child meaningful educational benefit.If either one of these is not done by the school district, then it means that the child is not receiving a free appropriate public education.4. IDEA 2004 states that a procedural violation must rise to the level of substantive violation, to constitute a lack of FAPE. In other words the procedural violation must be a major violation, in order to be a violation of FAPE. Some hearing officers and courts have found that parents being denied the ability of being an equal participant in their child’s IEP, is a substantive violation which is a denial of FAPE.5. A new recent court case N.R. vs. Kingwood Township the court states that the IEP must allow the child: significant learning and give meaningful benefit. Use this definition to determine if your child’s IEP is going to allow them significant learning and give meaningful benefit.By understanding what Free Appropriate Public Education is and having knowledge of court cases you will be able to help your child receive a Free Appropriate Public Education.

3 Things That Father’s Can Do to Be Involved in Their Child’s Special Education

Are you the father of a child with autism, and you would like to be more involved in your child’s education? Would you like a few simple things that you can do to benefit your child’s education? Fathers can bring a unique perspective to the special education process. This article will discuss 3 things that you can do to be more involved in your child’s special education program.A study report that was released on July 14,2006 from the University of North Carolina of Chapel Hill found that: Children with disabilities are more likely than other youngsters to live with single mothers or other female caretakers. Children with special needs can benefit greatly, if their fathers are involved with their life and education; so jump in for the benefit of your child!Below are a few things that you can do:1. Learn about the federal law that governs special education; The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). My book Disability Deception is filled with information on IDEA, or check out http://www.wrightslaw.com2. Attend an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) meeting for your child. These meetings must be held at least once a school year. Fathers are often treated with more respect than mothers, so your attendance could greatly benefit your child. Bring a list of your concerns, as well as a list of services that you believe your child needs.3. Check and see if your child’s school has any Special Olympics available, or any other sports or recreation for children receiving special education services. You could help your child learn skills, or offer to coach a team. Recreation can greatly benefit a child’s ability to learn, especially if they are hyperactive. Activity often helps child with a disability focus more.4. Take a short time off work and go and observe your child’s classroom. Talk to his teacher if time permits.5. Talk to other fathers, and perhaps start a group that will address your needs in the special education system. Talking to other fathers, will give you the chance to share ideas, and encourage each other in this journey.As an advocate for over 15 years, I found that children with disabilities that had their fathers involved in their educations, were often more motivated to do well. As I stated earlier, fathers are often given more respect than mothers so this should be a motivation to be more involved. You are the only father that your child has; and they are depending on you.