It is important to communicate with your child’s teacher, especially when your child has special needs. There are so many different disabilities, some rarer than others, that it is impossible for a teacher to know everything about your child’s needs. No two children are the same even if they share a common disability. One child with a visual impairment might be able to see a blackboard, while another may not. One child with ADHD might be able to handle one situation, while another may act out in that same situation. That is why it is so important to talk to your child’s teacher as early in the school year as possible about your child. Teachers appreciate the extra information and will be a better teacher to your child because of it.
It’s never easy to approach this subject with a teacher. You may not know what information is important and what isn’t. I always take a day or two and think about what behaviors may affect my child at school and what would help them learn better. Then I write it down and either call the teacher or schedule a conference.
When you are speaking to the teacher go over the list one thing at a time. For example with my five year olds teachers I say: She may have to hold her paper off to the side or above her eye level to be able to focus. Is it possible to have an empty desk beside hers? Most Teachers are extremely helpful in making adjustments to help a child do better in the classroom environment.
Know your child’s 504 or IEP plan. I can not stress enough how important this is. If your child has it in their 504 plan that they are supposed to receive a service and they are not you can demand they begin getting it. You’d be surprise to find out not all teachers know the children in their rooms 504 plans. When addressing this with a teacher you can say something like, my child is supposed to have notes given to him printed out. Maybe you were not aware of this, but it is very important so he can read them.
It’s also very important to discuss with the teacher any medical emergencies that may arise. Make sure she knows what signs to watch for and when to take action. With Janelle she makes this funny dolphin sounding noise when she’s about to go into an asthma attack. Because we let her teacher know about this we can prevent a really bad attack before it happens.
Have some resources to give the teacher. There are great websites on just about every disability out there. If a teacher has a better understand of a condition she’ll have a better understand of your child.
It’s also important to talk to other people in the school your child will have a lot of contact with, therapist, the school nurse, even the gym teacher. It seems like a lot of work, but after a few years you’ll have a perfectly rehearsed speech. You’ll be able to answer all the teachers’ questions without a second thought.
Remember you are your child’s advocate. You have to learn and share everything you can in order to make sure your child is successful in school.
Stephanie Barmann is a mother of seven and an author. She lives in Western New York, which is not known for having a lot of large families. She thinks sometimes people look at us like we are nuts. She has been a writer for over a decade and have five paranormal/horror ebooks on the market. She has stopped writing novels for a while to concentrate on raising kids. Two of her children are disabled so that takes up a lot of her time, but when she’s not on mommy duty she loves to read, blog, and organize church gatherings. Read more about her, and about talking to teachers when your child has special needs, at her blog.