Saturday, August 25, 2018

Seven New School Year Resolutions

Source: National PTA Our Children Magazine

Parents have two “New Years”—January 1 and the first day of school. The back-to-school season means it’s time for new clothes, backpacks and school supplies, but it’s also a time to reset priorities and establish new habits for a successful school year.
That means parents, too! When parents are actively involved in their child’s education, their student attends school more regularly, performs better in school, is more likely to graduate and is better able to navigate some of the challenges of growing up, such as bullying.
Here are seven new school year resolutions you should make to help your child make this the best school year yet!

1. Build a Relationship with Your Child’s Teacher

Go beyond back-to-school night, the parent-teacher conference and Teacher Appreciation Week. Despite all the forms of communication available to us, it can be easy to fall out of touch with your child’s teacher. Establish a good rapport early and build a partnership, so you aren’t trying to feel each other out when there is a concern or issue. You don’t have to keep contact with them every day, but sending the occasional check-in email to find out what you can do to help support your child’s progress is a great way to keep in touch.

2. Go Outside the Classroom

Field trips give students a chance to engage in hands-on learning and chaperoning these trips is a great way to get involved with your school. It’s also another opportunity to get to know your child’s teacher. Not only will your child’s teacher appreciate the help, but it will also give you the opportunity to see your child in a new environment and how they interact with their teacher and classmates. Plus, you can use the field trip to talk to your child about their school experience later when you’re back at home.

3. Fundraise the Easy Way

No matter what school your child attends, fundraising can go a long way in supporting students’ success, and it doesn’t have to be a labor-intensive project. Talk with your school administrators about hosting a pajama day, where each student can donate a dollar and wear PJs to school. Work with local businesses to set up a donation day where a percentage of all sales get donated to your school. You can also visit National PTA’s Fundraising Marketplace to find vendors and services with unique fundraising ideas.

4. Volunteer Your Time

Raising money is not the only way to make a difference. Volunteering is a great way to support your school community. Even if you don’t have a lot of time to spare, there are always ways you can help. Ask your child’s teacher if they could use an extra set of hands in the classroom. Seek out other opportunities within your school, such as participatingin the library’s story time, assisting in or creating a student club, or acting as a lunchroom or playground monitor. If you work during the school week, try getting involved on the weekend. Ask your child’s teacher if there are any projects you can complete at home, such as sewing costumes for the school play or helping to make materials for classroom projects.

5. Be Your Child’s #1 Advocate

Your voice is a powerful tool. If you notice something about your child’s school that you think should be addressed, know that you have the power to change it. The solution may not happen overnight, and it may not be exactly what you first suggest, but speaking out when there’s a challenge or issue can be the spark that brings positive change. Whether it’s fighting to keep recess, expanding your school’s arts programs or making sure that healthy food options are available to your child and their classmates, get involved in whatever way you can. Talk to your school administrators. Attend a school board meeting. Join the parent council at the district or state level where you can be at the table in making decisions that affect your child and all children in your community. Do whatever you can to ensure that your child’s school is the school that your community deserves.

6. Fill Your Child’s Toolbox

Whether it’s in the classroom or out on the field, your child needs some key tools to help them excel. Getting your child ready for school actually starts the day before. To be ready to learn and stay focused, most kids need to sleep 10-12 hours a night. Teach your student how to manage their time between activities and homework to ensure that they go to bed on time to get a full night’s rest. Make sure your child is getting the nutrition they need by pre-planning your meals and try to set aside some technology-free time every day to check in with your child. In the morning, make sure your child is starting the day off right with a good breakfast, either at home or through your school’s meal program.
7. Get Involved with PTA
Joining your school’s PTA can be a great way to take part in your school community. And that doesn’t always mean attending PTA meetings and joining a committee. Attend a PTA-sponsored family night or fundraising event and get to know the other families. Then, volunteer to help staff a future event or with the planning if you are unable to attend. This will help expand your network and keep you informed of school, district and state activities that affect your child and community.
Kayla Hewitt is a contributing writer to Our Children Magazine.

Friday, August 24, 2018

National PTA Statement on Senate FY2019 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Bill

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Aug. 23, 2018)—The following statement can be attributed to National PTA President Jim Accomando:

“This evening, the U.S. Senate passed a spending bill that would fund labor, health and human services and education programs for Fiscal Year 2019. The bill includes a $541 million increase in funding for public education overall. It also dedicates $10 million for the Statewide Family Engagement Centers (SFECs) program as well as includes $125 million increase for the Title IV-A block grant, which provides funding to states to support safe and health students, provide students with a well-rounded education and support effective use of technology in schools.

“While National PTA is pleased that funding is increased for public education overall as well as allocated for family engagement in education, our association is disappointed that the bill does not include an amendment introduced by Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) that would have clarified and ensured that Title IV-A funds cannot be used to purchase guns or provide firearm training for educators. The Title IV-A block grant helps schools provide students with important resources, such as comprehensive mental health programs and drug, violence and bullying prevention programs, and is not intended to be used to put guns in schools.

“National PTA believes the most effective day-to-day school climate is a gun-free campus—which includes not arming teachers and administrators. Teachers and administrators are there to educate our children and should not be acting as armed security in classrooms. Our association opposes any attempt to use federal funds to arm or provide firearm training for educators.

“National PTA urges Congress to enact a legislative solution in the appropriations process that ensures schools have the resources and capacity to provide a positive and healthier environment for all students. It is critical that Title IV-A funding is not diverted away from essential student support services to put guns in schools.

National PTA’s board of directors adopted a new position statement on safe and supportive schools during its August board meeting. The statement outlines our association’s belief that teachers and administrators should not be armed and calls for a multi-faceted approach to address school safety that involves all stakeholders, especially students, parents and families.”

About National PTA
National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of family engagement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health and welfare of children and youth. For more information, visit

Media Contact
Heidi May Wilson, National PTA, (703) 518-1242

Monday, August 20, 2018

National PTA Grants Available NOW / Deadline August 26

Apply Right Away!
Throughout the year, National PTA offers awards or grants to honor or support PTAs as they: engage families, support student success, improve the health and safety of students and families, increase access to arts education or celebrate advocacy and diversity.
National PTA is committed to promoting and encouraging many types of diversity and inclusion as part of our commitment to every child. In addition to evaluating the merits of each application, we may also consider geography, need, and other criteria to ensure a robust and diverse pool of grantees.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

How Families Can Drive Social and Emotional Learning

Source: National PTA One Voice Blog

Think back to the many wonderful moments of summer break as a child. Having the freedom to play, lead, think, and simply exist in your own unique way, testing your limits and sharing your imagination and ideas without the filters and regulations of the academic environment.
Now, imagine losing all of that in an instant. All of the joy. All of the freedom. All the imagination. That can be what it’s like for youth to begin the school year and shift into an environment where their social and emotional well-being is not adequately encouraged or supported.

As an active parent in the educational system for nearly two decades, I have witnessed firsthand how competing pressures on schools and educators have drawn attention away from students’ individual abilities, needs, strengths, and circumstances. It seems that the learning environment has become less focused on each student’s success and personal growth.

The time has come to place social and emotional learning back at the forefront in our schools – and it is now more important than ever.  Families, schools, and communities working together are the key to making social and emotional learning and development in school the norm for every child. That’s the central message of the Family Call to Actionfrom the Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. Developed by parents, for parents, the Call to Action lays out what we need from our schools – and each other:

We Need Our Schools to Know and Teach the Whole Student

Schools need to move away from one-size-fits-all policies to better meet the needs of each and every student.  When a student’s comprehensive development is fully supported, they are free to build critical life skills such as responsibility, respect, teamwork, self-control, and strength in the face of adversity. They are better able to overcome intellectual and personal challenges they may face in life.

We Need to Be Partners in Our Children’s Learning

Students need to see that their families are involved and invested in their educational well-being in positive ways. This includes attending meetings, conferences, after-school activities, and supporting homework and outside enrichment opportunities. It also means engaging directly with your child about whether their social, emotional, and academic needs are being met.

Be relentless in challenging policies that stifle personal growth and well-being. Collaborate with teachers, administrative staff, and district leaders to ensure that programs and policies are tailored to  individual social and emotional needs. Demand that school leaders communicate clearly and often.

We Need a Whole Community Approach

Extend your efforts beyond the school walls and into the community. Families, local businesses, and community organizations all have a role to play in educating our children. Programs such as mentoring, career shadowing and internship opportunities, and after-school tutoring services are essential to a complete education.

We Need Schools to Integrate Social, Emotional, and Academic Growth into the School Culture and Climate

Social and emotional development takes place all day, not during a 30-minute lesson. Encourage leaders in your school to shift resources that are being used inefficiently to instead support a whole student approach to learning.

We Need to Support Adults Who Support Our Children

The teachers and staff who educate our children are essential, and they need our support. Educators need ongoing professional development and mental health support to be as effective as they can be. Parents and families should have access to learning opportunities as well.

Make Your Voice Heard! 

Sign the National Commission’s Family Call to Action to urge schools to support students’ comprehensive development, then share the sign-on message with families in your community.

Together, we can give future generations of students a solid foundation and the opportunity to practice vital skills every day to develop the self-confidence, compassion, and critical thinking needed to become the model citizens and leaders that they desire to be.

Makeba Giles is the mother of four children who attend public schools and a founding writer of, an online magazine featuring health, family, and current events for the positive lifestyle. She is a member of the Parent Advisory Panel for the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

PTAs and Schools Honored for Innovation and Excellence in Family Engagement

ALEXANDRIA, Va., (Aug. 16, 2018)—National PTA is pleased to recognize three PTAs and schools with its 2018 Phoebe Apperson Hearst Awards—the highest honor presented by the association to celebrate family engagement.

Maple West Elementary PTA in Williamsville, N.Y. has been honored with the Phoebe Apperson Hearst Outstanding Family-School Partnership Award and a prize package including a $2,000 grant for their school. Laurens Middle School PTA in Laurens, S.C. and Boggess Elementary PTA in Murphy, Texas have been honored with the Phoebe Apperson Hearst Awards of Merit.

“Our Phoebe Apperson Hearst Awards—named after National PTA co-founder Phoebe Apperson Hearst—honor PTAs and schools that have demonstrated outstanding achievement in engaging families in student success and school improvements,” said Jim Accomando, president of National PTA. “We are thrilled to recognize the hard work and accomplishments of Maple West Elementary PTA, Laurens Middle School PTA and Boggess Elementary PTA with our 2018 Phoebe Apperson Hearst Awards.” 

National PTA is pleased to also honor 278 PTAs and schools as 2018-2020 Schools of Excellence for their accomplishments in building strong, effective family-school partnerships that enrich the educational experience and overall well-being for all students.

The School of Excellence program helps PTAs and school leaders partner to identify and implement an action plan for school improvement based on PTA's National Standards for Family-School Partnerships. The schools that achieve their goals by the end of the school year are honored as National PTA Schools of Excellence, a distinction that spans two years.

“When families are engaged and collaborate with schools, students do better in school and the schools improve,” said Nathan R. Monell, CAE, National PTA executive director. “The efforts of these PTAs and schools are making a positive impact on family engagement, student success and school improvement, and we are pleased to designate them as 2018-2020 Schools of Excellence.”

Enrollment is now open for the School of Excellence program and consideration of the 2019-2021 School of Excellence designation. The deadline to enroll is Oct. 1. For more information about the program and to enroll, visit

About National PTA
National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of family engagement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health and welfare of children and youth. For more information, visit

Media Contact
Heidi May Wilson, National PTA, (703) 518-1242

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

School of Excellence: Bringing the National Standards to Life

Source: National PTA One Voice Blog

The benefits of family-school-community partnerships are many: higher teacher morale, more parent involvement, and greater student success are only a few. That is why PTA developed the National Standards for Family School Partnerships. The standards are the foundation for the National PTA School of Excellence program and are embedded into our practice. They articulate what family engagement should look like at the school level.  These standards are in use by school, PTA and community leaders nationwide as a framework for thinking about, structuring, and assessing family engagement.
Here are some actual examples of how some 2017-2019 National PTA Schools of Excellence brought the National Standards to life in their schools.

Standard 1: Welcoming All Families

  • Bob Beard Elementary PTA in TX
We have welcoming signs all over our school.  Our Festival of Nations event is a wonderful opportunity for our families to come celebrate the diverse cultures represented at our school.  Beard families provided music, games, traditional clothing, dance and food from 23 nations across the globe represented by 44 of our Beard families.  We hosted both a dance for our boys to bring their special ‘gal’ (mom, aunt, family friend) and another dance for our girls to bring their special ‘guy’.  We hosted ‘Family Movie Night’ where families brought tents, sleeping bags and chairs along with picnics to all gather around and bond while watching a movie together and then hanging out. Also, 2 Grandparents Breakfasts, College Night, Open House and Howdy Nights to just come explore and get to know each other, Pizza Nights with our WATCH D.O.G.Z. and kids, our Fear-Factor eating contest between our two administrators brought hundreds of families to come out, bond and cheer them on.  Career Day brought many family members to school to teach our students about various occupations, and Kinder Round Up brought our new little ones in with their family members to explore and meet other families.  National Walk-to-School Day was really fun as we had hundreds of moms and dads and family members all walking and biking their little ones to school that morning.  We also hosted 2 Beautification days on Saturdays that brought our family and community members out by the truckloads with their gardening and yard tools to spend time together making Beard a more beautiful place.  We are a No Place for Hate campus.

Standard 2: Communicating Effectively

  • Leroy Collins Elementary PTA in FL
We communicate in a variety of ways, allowing us to reach every family. The Principal sends out a weekly telephone call-out every Sunday evening, letting families know what is coming in the follow week. Both Collins & the PTA send out Parent Link text messages with importation information. We also utilize Peachjar to send home flyers as well as sending paper flyers home. We have websites ( ,, a PTA facebook page (CollinsElementaryPTA). When notices were sent home to families regarding the Partnership Survey, every student was sent a flyer in both English & Spanish providing them with information about the survey and a link to follow. They were also directed to our Facebook page and website where links were posted to access the surveys directly. Paper surveys were also available. Our school website has every staff member’s email address listed to contact them directly. Through various methods of communication we’ve ensured that everyone knows what’s going on at our school and exactly how they can help if they choose to. We’ve promoted volunteer opportunities on, on PTA FB page, text, emails, flyers, and in personal conversations at various events.

Standard 3: Supporting Student Success

  • Hightower Trail MIddle School PTSA in GA
Given that our main goal this year was to support the implementation of college and career-ready standards, we focused on involving students and parents in the communication and activities regarding these standards.  The PTSA worked closely with the administration and counseling department to provide several opportunities for students and parents to learn and be involved including: a parent seminar with the principal on how to read your student’s Milestone/EOG test scores, Q&A documents on understanding your student’s progress reports and test scores, Move On When Ready open houses, several coffee with the counselors sessions for parents on study skills and organization, and also our annual college and career week.  This week features a day dedicated to supporting your high school, college spirit day, dress to impress day and career look alike day. Teachers do lessons about careers and they discuss the college they attended. We also feature teachers on the morning news show. Our Career Day was highlighted on Cobb TV. We also held three STEM career events for each grade level.  Every student is also given an account for the career cruising program which is an Internet-Based Career Interest Inventory. The students choose three possible careers based on their interests. The 8th graders receive a core guidance lesson on high school, college, and careers and each student develops a four-year plan. As a result of our efforts, our ‘Always’ score went from 42% to 50% for the question on the transition to high school and increased from 38% to 47% on the question regarding sharing information on student achievement data.

Standard 4: Speaking Up for Every Child

  • Casey Elementary PTA in MS
While our state legislatures convened, we supplied parents with links and bills as they pertained to education in MS. We supplied names and phone numbers of the House and Senate members so they could contact them to express their opinions of the bills that were on the floor. We also participated in PTA day at the Capital.  Parents were invited each month for all PTA board meeting to express ideas or concerns within the school so we could in turn work with the principal to improve our success rate. It was with these efforts and working with the community volunteers that our 3rd grade class passed state testing at 100%!

Standard 5: Sharing Power

  • Allen Elementary School PTA in TN
We encouraged participation and represented our PTA/school during the district’s Superintendent search.  Our PTA was represented at every Superintendent Parent Advisory Board meeting, stake holders meeting, public meet-and-greet, and Board of Education meeting.  We provided parents with pertinent information regarding every candidate (access to resume, interview summaries, etc).  We encouraged our parents and community to reach out to our school board leaders via phone/email with their superintendent choice.Collaborating with the community – We have worked hard this year to partner with our community to achieve student success.  Registration Day Ice Cream Social:  Prior to the first day of school, PTA invited families to join us for an ice cream social to learn more about PTA and local organizations that benefit our students.  During the ice cream social, PTA hosted local organizations allowing parents to network with PTA Board Members, administration, teachers, support staff, and local organizations.

Standard 6: Collaborating with Community

  • Westerly PTA in OH
Through the Cyber bullying program all students in both grades (3rd and 4th) at Westerly took part in classroom cyber awareness lessons and anti-bully prevention activities during their scheduled library time. Through these activities, the focus was to give all students guidance and ability to understand and prevent them from being victims. This collaborative approach with Mrs. Basel (School Counselor) and Miss Harris (School Librarian), Mr. Reynolds (Technology Director) and Detective Krolkosky (BVPD Detective) educated children about the basics of going online, and  helped them become safe, responsible and respectful digital citizens.
To learn more about how your PTA can bring the National Standards to light and earn a National PTA School of Excellence designation, visit or email

Amy Weinberg is the Manager of Programs & Partnerships at National PTA. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Go Back to School Thinking About Your End Game

Source: National PTA One Voice Blog

It begins again! When’s the first PTA meeting? When is Open House? Do we have enough volunteers? Where’s the budget? Who has the membership forms? It’s easy to get lost in the chaos of preparing PTA for a new school year. Want some advice? Think about the “end game” to help you focus on what matters. It’s so much easier to get to where you want to go if you know where you want to end up!
How many young people will your PTA touch this year? How many will decide to be a writer because of the PTA assembly, shine in a PTA Reflections program, get active in a PTA fun run, or have their futures open wide during a STEM night? Start planning and counting now. When the school year ends, will your PTA be able to say it positively influenced the lives of 100% of the children in your community? Think about the excitement your PTA can generate as you work toward that goal and think about how great it will feel to achieve it.
How many families will your PTA benefit this year? How many adults will get involved in their child’s education, have fun as a family, advocate on behalf of a child, or create a healthier, safer home environment because PTA provided the opportunity and resources? Start planning and counting now. When the school year ends, wouldn’t you love to report that your PTA made a positive difference in the lives of 100% of the families of your community? Think about the partners and members you can attract as you work toward that goal and how amazing it will feel to have that type of impact on children and families.
How many community members will your PTA influence this year? What services and programs can be made available through partnerships, how many non-parent adults will be become school supporters, how many resources can become available to families, children and schools because of the relationships your PTA builds? Start planning and counting now. When the school year ends, wouldn’t it be deeply satisfying to report your PTA’s role in improving your community and increasing the support it provides to children, families and schools?
PTA’s mission is to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that movement as a member, volunteer or leader? PTA is out to change the world. How will your PTA take us all one step closer to our end game?

Deborah Walsh is the National Service Representative Manager for National PTA.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

National PTA Board of Directors Adopts Position Statement on
Safe and Supportive Schools

Statement outlines association’s belief that teachers and administrators should not be armed

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (August 7, 2018)—As schools across the country are increasingly impacted by violence and natural disasters, National PTA’s board of directors adopted a new position statement on safe and supportive schools during its August board meeting. The statement calls for a multi-faceted approach to address school safety that involves all stakeholders, especially students, parents and families.  

“School safety is a critical priority for all parents, families, educators, students and community members that cannot be taken for granted. Every child has a right to learn and grow in a safe and supportive environment,” said Jim Accomando, president of National PTA. “National PTA recognizes that school safety is a multi-faceted issue with no one clear solution for each community. We believe any effort to address school safety must involve all stakeholders who should consider a variety of factors, including the physical and psychological safety of students.”

As outlined in the position statement, National PTA promotes the establishment of and support for school safety policies and procedures that emphasize family engagement, adequate funding for student supports and services, and conditions that create and foster positive and welcoming school environments. The association also promotes the implementation of evidence-based policies and best practices articulated in A Framework for Safe and Successful Schools, which was written and has been endorsed by the nation’s leading education stakeholders and practitioners.

The position statement further states that National PTA believes the most effective day-to-day school climate is a gun-free campus—which includes not arming teachers and administrators—but defers to local, collaborative decision-making regarding the presence of law enforcement for school building security. If the decision is made to have a Student Resource Officer (SRO) or other security agency within a school building, the association believes there must be a clearly defined memorandum of understanding between the law enforcement agency and the school that articulates the role of the SRO.

“National PTA believes teachers and administrators are there to educate our children and should not be acting as armed security in classrooms,” said Nathan R. Monell, CAE, executive director of National PTA. “Families, students, educators, administrators, counselors, law enforcement, community leaders and elected officials must work together to ensure students feel safe and schools and communities have the resources and capacity to provide a positive and healthier environment for all students.”

About National PTA
National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of family engagement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health and welfare of children and youth. For more information, visit

Media Contact
Heidi May Wilson, National PTA, (703) 518-1242

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Seven Tips for Parents for the Beginning of the School Year

Seven Tips for Parents for the Beginning of the School Year

July 24, 2018 by DRO Attorney John Price / special education
DISCLAIMER: This blog is meant to be used as a general resource for parents. It does not constitute legal advice. If you have specific questions about your child, please contact our office at 614-466-7264 and select option 2 for intake.
As a parent of a school-age child with a disability, the last thing you may want to think about during the summer is your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) for the upcoming school year. This is understandable because the process can be daunting and emotionally draining, but summer is a great time to take stock of where things stand with your child’s educational program, particularly as it relates to his or her long-term goals and trajectory.
Here are a few tips on what you can do as the school year approaches to try to make sure your child has the most productive year he or she can have.
1. Get organized. Use this time to figure out a system for keeping things organized. Start a folder or a binder that contains the IEP, Evaluation Team Report (ETR), progress reports, prior written notices, behavior sheets, daily communication sheets, school work, and other documents the school sends home. Your system could be as simple as a binder with tabs or a folder, as long as it works for you. This will allow you to keep track of what your child is doing and have a record that will be important if you run into conflict.
2. Review your child’s ETR. ETRs are critical in the special education process not only because they determine eligibility but because they also drive your child’s goals and—in turn—services and placement. All too often, teams only think about evaluations every three years, which is when the law says they have to be redone. But, in terms of childhood development, three years is a long time. Review your child’s evaluation to see if it still paints an accurate picture of your child’s levels. Compare it to any outside evaluations done by private professionals and your own observations. If you think the report is no longer accurate or complete, write a letter to your special education contact documenting your specific concerns and request a formal re-evaluation.
3. Review IEP goals. Goals should be (1) individualized, (2) data-driven, (3) skills-based, (4) challenging, and (5) measurable. They should flow logically from skill deficits identified in the evaluation. Each goal should state your child’s present level of performance in measurable terms that mirror the goal language, establishing a baseline that everyone can understand. To determine if a goal is objectively measurable, read the goal and see if you could test the child yourself at home and determine if he or she met the goal. If not, there is a good chance the goal is not measurable. The goal should also be challenging, as the law requires districts to maintain high expectations for students with disabilities. Look at your child’s previous IEP goals. If you’re seeing the same goal year after year, that is a problem, as it indicates either that the goal is inappropriate or the services provided are ineffective. If your review reveals any problems, set up an IEP meeting as early as possible to revise the goal.
4. Build relationships. Once you know who will be working with your child this year, start building a relationship of trust with those people very early on. Contact your child’s teacher, paraprofessional and related services provider and ask to set up an informal time for you to chat so that they can get to know you and your child. Let them know you want to be an active part in your child’s education. They will appreciate the gesture, and it will give you an opportunity to give them a fuller picture of your child.
5. Set up a plan for regular communication. You cannot fully serve your role in the IEP process if you do not know what is going on in the classroom. That is why it is critical for you and the team to develop a plan for regular communication between you and your child’s teacher. The form and frequency of the communication will depend on the specific circumstances. Some examples are daily tracking sheets that the child takes to and from school or daily or weekly emails. The important thing is that it is regular and in writing, so that you know how your child is progressing, and you have a record if a dispute arises.
6. Familiarize yourself with your rights. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) firmly establishes parents as full and equal members of an IEP team. But you cannot exercise your rights if you do not understand them. Read A Guide to Parent’s Rights in Special Education, which you can find online here, or you can request one from the school district. You can also utilize DRO’s resource page here. And of course, you can contact our office with specific questions.
7. Let go of grudges. For many parents, this is a hard one. You should use the new school year as an opportunity for a fresh start. Keep your focus on your child’s services and what will help them develop from this point forward. If you believe your child has been denied a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) in the past, use the procedural safeguards available to you to request a remedy, such as compensatory education. If you believe your child’s placement or services are inadequate, use the IEP process to advocate for changes. Personal animosity, however, is not useful, and you will be better served if you leave any hard feelings out of it.