Parents’ Guide to Special Education: Rights and Education Plans

If you have a child with special needs, you are no doubt familiar with many of the services and accommodations provided to them by their school. You may also have a clear understanding of some of the laws that guarantee your child the appropriate support services in an educational setting. You are likely also familiar with the time, energy and red tape required to obtain services for your child. It is a complicated process indeed, with many legal underpinnings guiding the development and administration of programs for special needs kids.

 

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

First passed in 1975 as the Education of Handicapped Children Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), as it stands today, is the result of revisions in 1990, 1997 and 2004. Prior to 1975, children with disabilities were either placed in segregated classrooms in public schools or denied access to public education altogether.

 

 

Today’s iteration of IDEA includes four parts, including Part B, which outlines the service requirements for children from 3-21 years of age, and Part C, which governs the administration of services to children from birth to 2 years of age. IDEA, among other things, establishes that families have a right to:
 

  • A Free and Appropriate Public Education for school-aged children.
  • An Individualized Education Plan for public school students.
  • A consultation with a school professional to determine the level of a disabled child’s needs.
  • Access to early intervention services for infants and toddlers.
  • An Individualized Family Service Plan for infants and toddlers.

 

IDEA . . . read more

It has been more than a decade since the first large-scale one-to-one technology initiative was launched in Maine. That program, which put laptops in the hands of every public school student in the state, represented a major shift in the manner in which students learn. Recognizing the growing value of technology, particularly the Internet as an educational tool, the program opened doors for students to learn that otherwise would not have been available. For the first time, students could easily expand their learning time beyond the boundaries of their classroom and regular school day.

Yet, as children learned to utilize technology for educational purposes, the non-educational aspects of technology began to become more prominent. Gone are the days when a laptop was used to type a report or to access an online encyclopedia for research. Now, children have thousands of online distractions from YouTube videos to games to apps that allow them to chat, text, and share pictures with their friends.

Source: Educational Marketing Group

 

All this makes it more difficult for parents to manage what their children utilize their technology to do. However, there are steps parents can take to ensure their child utilizes technology for learning first and fun second.

 

Set Rules and Stick to Them

Establishing rules can go a long way in helping your child define the boundaries of their use of technology. One of your first rules should . . . read more

Your child’s success in school is dependent upon a wide variety of factors. Certainly, the quality of programming at your child’s school, the quality of your child’s teacher, and access to quality resources are all critical components of your child’s success. But the factor that is most important for your child’s academic achievement is your involvement in their educational process.

According to the Michigan Department of Education, parental involvement is twice as predictive of a child’s academic success than socioeconomic status. Yet, the same report also notes that a lack of parental involvement is the largest issue facing public schools today. There are likely many reasons for this gap, not the least of which is that some parents just don’t know how to help their children when they bring schoolwork home. However, involvement in your child’s education does not begin and end with struggling to help them with homework. There are many methods you can employ to help your child achieve his or her academic potential, and here are nine ways you can naturally incorporate into your child's academic support. 

 

 

Create a Routine and Stick to It

A major barrier that many parents face is simply finding the time in their schedules to sit down with their children to talk about school, review work, and provide assistance when needed. This has become even more difficult in recent years as children have become so involved with technologies like mobile phones, tablets, and social media that can occupy . . . read more

The age-old question of where to send your child to school, if you’re fortunate enough to have a choice, is one that has been debated for ages. Do you go the private school route to give your child smaller class sizes, more rigorous learning experiences, and a better shot at an upper tier college? Or do you opt for the public school option, where your child will experience more diversity among their classmates and have more opportunities for exploring academic and extracurricular activities? No doubt, private schools and public schools have their advantages and disadvantages, which help create a vastly different school experience for your child.

The School Experience

Obviously there are sharp contrasts in the type of experience your child will have at a public or private school. In private school, your child will likely be in classes with fewer students, with a teacher that is more likely to report enjoying his or her job, and at a school that is more likely to have modern resources, including supplies and textbooks that are relatively new, if not brand new. The curriculum is driven at the school level, with teachers having more say regarding what is taught and how they teach it. Private school students also engage in more physical activities and eat healthier school meals than do public school students.

Conversely, public school students are more likely to attend a school that is socially, racially, and economically diverse. Public school students . . . read more

While some school districts have moved to year-round schedules, most still adhere to the traditional nine-month calendar, with a winter break, spring break, and a lengthy summer break sprinkled throughout the year. These vacations offer much-needed respite from school, but even spring break, which is typically only a week, can have a measurable negative impact on a child’s mental acuity. At 10-12 weeks, summer vacation can result in a substantial brain drain that can significantly impact your child’s education.

 

What is Brain Drain?

As the saying goes, if you don’t use it, you lose it. According to research, over the course of summer vacation, students lose between 2 to 2 ½ months of math skills from the previous year’s learning. This loss of computational understanding is experienced by children regardless of their background or family income. Some students also experience significant setbacks in reading ability as well. Students with a low socioeconomic status can lose up to three months of reading skills in just 2-3 months of summer break. These deficits also appear during the shorter winter and spring vacations, although not in nearly as robust a fashion.

The vacation brain drain is a serious issue for children of all ages, but the stakes are much higher for kids in high school. With SATs, ACTs, AP and IB courses, and other high-demand academic requirements, high schoolers can little afford to return to school having lost 2-3 months of academic skills. Fortunately, this brain drain can be substantially or completely reversed . . . read more

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