When developing an IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) or Section 504 Agreement for your child, parents are often left sitting at the meeting, overwhelmed by the entire process. They many times miss the opportunity to speak up for their child, to request services and accommodations that may create success rather than failure. This is not because parents do not care, but it is because they don’t understand the process or are intimidated by the school officials sitting at the table with them. Or maybe they feel that the teachers know what is best. But parents are invaluable in setting up services. They know their children best, they know from experience what has worked and what has not. They know their child’s strengths and weaknesses. With this knowledge, parents are often the most important people in an IEP or Section 504 meeting.
Being prepared is extremely important. Below are some ideas to help you get started on preparing a list of services that could benefit your child. These are some ideas that have worked for other parents and have been implemented by school districts. Use these ideas as a starting point and add based on your child’s specific needs.
For the child easily distracted in class:
- Front row seating
- Seating away from doors and windows
- Creating a signal between the teacher and student to have them get back on track, for example, walking past the desk and lightly tapping it.
- Changing the children your child sits around.
- Receiving daily reports on what subject matter was covered in class for review at night.
For the child that has test anxiety or has a difficult time finishing tests:
- Use oral tests to determine knowledge of a subject.
- Have the child take the test in the resource room or library where the anxieties of watching other children complete their tests is gone.
- Allow the child to come back after school or during free periods (but try not to take away recess or lunch) to complete their tests.
- Use a teacher/student signal, such as tapping the desk or the teacher clearing their throat as a reminder to get back on task.
- Adapt tests to show knowledge instead of speed. For example, limit math questions to 4 questions to show an understanding of the subject rather than completing 10 questions.
- Send home study guides several nights before the test for review.
For children having problems completing seatwork (or handing in unreadable class work):
- Have the child complete the seatwork in the resource room or library.
- Have uncompleted seatwork sent home to be completed, with a note to the parent to let them know about the extra work. Grades should not be lowered for seatwork handed in the following day.
- Reduce the seatwork to show knowledge of subject rather than speed.
- Use a teacher/student signal to help the student stay on track.
- Allow students to work with a “buddy” at times.
Problems with handing in homework, losing homework, or forgetting homework:
- Have the teacher sign the assignment book each day to indicate your child has the proper homework written down.
- Have an extra set of books at home.
- Use a website or homework hotline to list homework assignments so that parents can check to see what is for homework.
- Allow for “bad” homework days. Children with ADHD often take much longer to complete homework assignments. Add one or two extra days to complete homework, especially, if parents have notified the teacher that students spend time working on the assignment. (My son routinely took 2-3 hours per night to complete homework that other students could complete in 45 minutes.) If a teacher is notified that homework took several hours but still was not completed, adjustments should be allowed.
- Have parents check off homework that was completed to let the teacher know it was done, even if the student cannot find it at the moment.
- Reduce homework assignments to show knowledge and understanding of subject matter.
- Use a buddy system to help the student pack up at the end of the day and make sure they have all the materials they need.
These are just some examples and can easily be modified to fit the specific needs of your child. If you have additional suggestions that have worked for your family, please leave a comment and share these ideas with other parents. Maybe your ideas can help a student succeed.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.