December 22, 2018 |
Education & Schools
Where has the time gone? I feel like I blinked, and my oldest finished elementary school. Since he has a disability, he started Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities (PPCD) when he was three.
He is now eleven. He just finished 5th grade. The middle school years are next. I am as nervous now as I was eight years ago. Hopefully, I can take what I learned over these past years and we will have an easy move to middle school.
We haven’t had an entirely easy time. In fact, the first few years were really hard. But with a lot of hard work and effort, we put a pretty solid plan in place. Here are a few things we did:
- Vision Statement—I wrote a vision statement for our son. I read this at every Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) meeting. I made sure everyone who worked with him also read it. Our vision helped everyone understand what our expectations were. Mostly, we wanted him to be included in school and community.
- Presuming Competence—We talked to the staff about what it meant to presume competence. We wanted everyone working with our son to talk to him and educate him as if he understood everything. Even if he didn’t, at least he was exposed to it.
- Staffing—We had a team staffing before every ARD meeting. This allowed us to hash out goals and a plan in a more informal setting. It gave us the freedom to have a good conversation without time restraints. This also gave us time to process things before the actual ARD meeting.
- Support—I never went to an ARD meeting alone. I always took a friend with me. She could stay neutral. She could judge my emotion and call a recess if we needed it. I also gave her the freedom to talk during the meeting. She asked questions and gave input on things I hadn’t thought of.
- Beginning of Year Meeting—Every school year, the week before school started, we had a meeting. It was with the new group of teachers who would be working with him. We discussed his disability. We talked about safety plans. We showed them how to use his equipment. We also answered any questions.
- Communication—Open contact with everyone is vital. I sent a notebook to school every day. I would write any important things that I needed everyone to know. I would also let them know some things we did the night before. This way they had stuff to talk about with him. Someone from the staff would then send the notebook back with details about his day. We also relied heavily on texts and email.
Making sure everyone is on the same page makes things so much easier. This journey can be very, very hard. Hopefully, some of the ideas above can help you.
Find more help and information in Education and Schools. Explore here for more information on transitions between schools or education levels such as elementary to middle to high school.