SPECIAL EDUCATION AND YOUR CHILD – A PARENT TO PARENT POST
Does your child have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a Special Education need?
If so, you are not alone – according to the Ontario Ministry of Education, 17.4% of students in 2021-2022 received Special Education programs and/or services.
How can you ensure your child achieves their full potential?
Focus on the following relationships with:
Your child – A loving relationship with your child will give them the best foundation for a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life. Let your child know how awesome they are and that you are invested in their success at school. Your role is not to remove every obstacle for them. Instead, you want to help create an atmosphere where they can develop resiliency and feel comfortable facing challenges on their own.
Other parents – We all know children are not born with an instruction manual. This is certainly true when it comes to parenting a child with unique learning needs. Seek out other parents who are in the same boat. They can be an amazing resource for tips on what’s available in your community to support your student. Every parent has their own approach so listen without judgement. Also, consider attending your Catholic School Council meetings and/or attending an OAPCE regional meeting to expand your network.
Your child’s school – Build collaborative relationships with your child’s classroom teacher(s), the Special Education Resource Teacher, the Guidance Counselor and the school Principal. These people are your team on the ground who work with your students day to day. Share information with them about what motivates your child. Be vocal about your child’s needs and let them know you are committed to supporting your child’s success.
Next, find out what’s happening with:
Your school board – Every Catholic School board in Ontario has aSpecial Education Advisory Committee this is a mandated committee set out from the Ministry of Education – Check out your Board’s website to see when and where these meetings are. Check out their website as well to determine what they have available as far as parent engagement on their Special Education services. Find out if they have meetings or events focused on Special Education and try to attend them or request copies of their minutes. These meetings are generally attended by senior board staff and can provide valuable information on new initiatives supporting student success in Special Education.
Your local School Board Trustees – These elected officials are there to advocate for public education in your community. Read your board website for information on any communication updates your Trustees are sharing with the public with respect to Special Education. Ensure you connect and meet your Trustee they are there to advocate for you as well!
The Ontario Ministry of Education – Familiarize yourself with the Ministry of Education’s Special Education policies and how they impact your unique student:
Putting the pieces together:
As you cultivate relationships and build knowledge of what’s available, you will be in a better position to advocate for your child. Things aren’t always going to be perfect for them, so remember to be patient with yourself and your child along the way. Strive for 1% improvements and celebrate every positive outcome.
It will take some organization, but your consistent efforts to support your child’s education will pay off over time.
And there is no greater feeling than seeing your child triumph.
You’ve got this!
E. Wylie, Director Hamilton Wentworth CDSB /Autism/Special Education Advocate!