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-   -   labels in school - good or bad? (http://www.mothering.com/forum/51-learning-school/1418673-labels-school-good-bad.html)

crazytownmama 06-09-2014 04:29 AM

labels in school - good or bad?
 
I was talking to a friend who's parents are high school teachers... and she told me that once a child is labelled special needs in school that it makes getting into gifted/talented/advanced academic classes VERY hard.

Any experiences/stories about this??

(Here's the thing -- my oldest is VERY smart, but he's ALSO got some challenges. sensory/behavioural/visual type challenges that have nothing to do with how smart he is, but will probably lead to a label this fall -- he'll be entering 4th grade after being homeschooled) How hard will the be to overcome later? Do I want to fight FOR him being labelled if it helps him now? Or is that too shortsighted for future -- should I try and help him through it without labelling him for future opportunities?

THAN

Linda on the move 06-09-2014 07:08 AM

You should advocate for him being evaluated and be open to what they have to say.

If your son can be successful at school without special help, then he shouldn't have one, for a lot of reasons.

If your son can't be successful at school without special help, then denying him one because of fear of the future could hurt him.

In your post , you sound very advasarial. Try to pivot to seeing the school as your new partner that you will be working with.

ollyoxenfree 06-09-2014 07:30 AM

I'm assuming you mean a label from a formal diagnosis or identification after a psychoeducational evaluation. Those labels can be useful for accessing needed services. If an assessment and identification process led to better educational programs and resources for my child, I would go ahead with it.

I would rather have an accurate formal label applied to sensory and visual needs than an informal, inaccurate label based on a teacher's observations of the resulting classroom (mis)behaviour.

However, in my area, learning disabilities and behavioural issues don't prohibit entry to gifted programs. Here, giftedness is considered a special education need. The gifted programs are part of the special education portfolio. The educators understand that there are students with dual diagnoses - gifted and learning disabled/behavioural issues/emotional challenges etc. These 2E (twice exceptional) children are included in the gifted classes.

Attitudes and programs in your area may be very different. You may have to fight for help or you may get lots of help without any fight at all.

Without knowing the extent of your child's issues and whether you really will have a fight on your hands, here's my general advice on how to be prepared to deal with the school system:

Research the programs and the admission policies so you know what is available and what your child is entitled to access. Ask for written policies, guidelines etc. Much of it may be on-line

Cultivate allies in the system to help you navigate and provide some advice (classroom teacher, resource teacher, guidance counselor, principal, school board administrators etc.)

Look for local parent groups for special interests - people who have BTDT - to give you advice and support

Consider paying for a private psychoeducational evaluation. It allows you some control over the process to identify special needs. It will provide you with some evidence if you do need to fight for programming. You may also get some help on how to manage his issues both at home and at school.

Finally, I don't mean to dismiss your concerns but if you have been homeschooling, are you sure he is that different from other students and will struggle in the classroom? You may find that the teachers are experienced with students with similar issues/development stage etc. You don't provide any details, so I have no idea if this is the case.

ollyoxenfree 06-09-2014 07:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Linda on the move (Post 17672289)
Try to pivot to seeing the school as your new partner that you will be working with.

:yeah:yeah

I Cross-posted with Linda. Couldn't agree more.

whatsnextmom 06-09-2014 08:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by crazytownmama (Post 17672033)
I was talking to a friend who's parents are high school teachers... and she told me that once a child is labelled special needs in school that it makes getting into gifted/talented/advanced academic classes VERY hard.

Labels always seem to be good and bad. They make somethings much easier and somethings more work. What label do you think your son will have? ADHD? Are you thinking he's on the autism spectrum? You say it doesn't effect him academically so I'm assuming you aren't thinking in terms of learning disability. If he's got some disruptive quirks or if the sensory issues elicit a strong, obvious response then having a private evaluation and a discussion with the school prior will save some heartache. Better to head off certain problems from the get-go.

Will a label keep him out of certain programs? Not likely. Will his behavior keep him out of certain programs? Well, that is possible. Not all gifted programs are really gifted programs. Many are high achiever programs specifically designed for the focused, independent learner. If that is a setting your son would struggle in then it may not be the right place for him, gifted or not. There are other ways to get academic challenge outside of a setting that may not be a good fit. If it's a program that admits based solely on test scores, then you'll generally find the classes filled will all sorts.. kids with sensitivities and behavioral issues to boot.

FWIW, I have a very quirky son. He has the gifted label. He has some learning issues... a bit dyslexic, a bit dysgraphic but compensates well with some understanding from his teachers. We put him in an elementary school that focused on aural learning (Spanish Immersion) and so it just wasn't so much an issue. By middle school, he'd gained enough coping skills to make traditional schooling easily manageable (except art... his teacher did need to be told that he was actually "trying" but that his fine motors just weren't comparable to his peers.) He has sensory issues and some minor compulsions but his reaction to sensory issues are very subtle and controllable when he needs them to be. His compulsions are always on his own body (things like spending 2 years pushing his hair to the side every 2 minutes even when it's cut short... stuff like that.) He has had no problem in the gifted program... his are entrance by test score but extremely disruptive behavior can exclude a kid despite abilities.

IdentityCrisisMama 06-09-2014 09:00 AM

I was exactly where you are now when my DC was in 4th grade. She had a significant reading delay that was being addressed as best as possible at a school that she and I loved but she wasn't making as much progress as we all would have liked. The school proposed pulling her out for special services. It was a small school so the only options for this sort of intervention was to pull her out for PE and Math. At that time her math teacher has some concerns over her math as well so I kind of freaked out at the school's solution to the reading delay.

We were fortunate to be able to address her learning problems privately (I have a friend who is a veteran teacher and offered to tutor my DC free of charge). That, in-class support from school, some help from me, significant effort on my DC's part AND time ended up starting the ball rolling to resolution of the reading/writing/math delay.

When we decided to decline the interventions proposed by DC's school they recommended that we have her evaluated professionally for a potentially identifiable LD. Myself and the teachers/principal (with a background in special ed) all felt fairly certain that DC would have been given an IEP. I'm not sure if this is what you consider a label.

Long story short, we declined and 2 years later I am very happy that we decided to go that route.

My DC ended up at a neighborhood school for middle (6th grade) that has tracked classes. One "advanced" and one "general ed". I have no way of knowing this for sure but I suspect that DC would have been placed in the general ed track if she had an IEP that focused on her LD.

It is not my opinion that this would be a good choice for another family or another learner. There were a series of things that led to the decision we made for our DC. For one, I strongly suspected that she was developing a lasting opinion of herself as a learner at the time that the evaluation was recommended. She was also at a school that I did not feel was able to make any significant changes to her education even with an IEP. I vowed to keep the doors to evaluation open for whenever anything changed and I felt it was time to go forward with that.

In the end it looks like she may not have needed it and, because of that, I'm happy we didn't have it done. But, there was always the chance that she really did and waiting would have been a detriment to her. That's the really hard part of making this decision.

FTR, you do not sound adversarial to me. In my area, unfortunately, the term "fight" is often used when it comes to advocating for our kids. If you have teachers warning you about labels (IEPs?) I can understand your concerns.

Please take my opinion as a parent who has not been through the IEP system. Talking to parents who have experienced that are able to provide valuable opinions from that perspective.

IdentityCrisisMama 06-09-2014 09:07 AM

Also, as a parent who has investigated a lot of the merit-based academic programs in my city, those programs are really under strict watch for discrimination. I suspect that official merit-based programs have to be VERY careful about decisions based on labels/IEPs. I suspect that if they have a specific criteria (test scores, grades, letters of recommendation) that they have to stick to that and are not legally allowed to factor other things like IEPs.

My DC's school made the tracking decisions (I believe) in a much less specific way and had a look at the student's entire folder including grades, testing, attendance, IEPs, behavior interventions, peer relationships. In cases like this I think there are times when and IEP may play a role in placement.

I would ask for more information about what sorts of placements the teachers in your area are concerned with and how those decisions are made for the programs you think may be a good fit for your child in the future.

moominmamma 06-09-2014 10:06 AM

When he went from unschooling to school my ds did get labelled based on his dysgraphia, and that label didn't stand in the way of him getting all sorts of extra challenge, flexibility and enrichment. His teachers and principals have never had anything other than his best interests in mind. Now maybe it's different here in my rural corner of Canada, since there doesn't seem to be a competitive/elite orientation to gifted programming. The focus tends to be more on just meeting the needs of individual kids rather than on being a gatekeeper to restrict access to a more desirable program. We don't have a gifted program, just flexibility within the regular program. Still, his LD label has not created any obstacles at all.

Miranda

crazytownmama 06-09-2014 11:34 AM

I don't mean to come across as adversarial, i really don't... I am hoping for the best, but trying to prepare for the worst... and I don't want to make a decision that is going to impact him for years based on behavior issues he might have during the adjustment from home to school...(I think he might truly benefit from services this year to make the transition easier, but once we're over that... i don't think he'd really need them... and I don't want to make this year easier at the expense of his future schooling, yanno?

moominmamma 06-09-2014 12:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by crazytownmama (Post 17673329)
(I think he might truly benefit from services this year to make the transition easier, but once we're over that... i don't think he'd really need them... and I don't want to make this year easier at the expense of his future schooling, yanno?

I think you could explain to the school and teachers that he has some sensory issues which express themselves behaviorally, for which accommodations will be helpful during the transition, since the new environment is likely to exacerbate his issues. Explain what those issues are, and what things you have discovered are helpful, and what sort of support might work well for him in the classroom. Talk about ways to keep the avenues of communication open and how you would like to be their ally. And tell them that once most of the transition issues have been worked through in the early weeks and months, you would like to plan to meet with them to discuss whether they think formal assessment and identification will be helpful and necessary, after they've had a chance to get to know him and see how he has adjusted. That speaks of your trust in their ability to get to know him, but sets up a situation where they have a bit of helpful background information and know that you are there to help support him and them.

I prefer not to "hope for the best but prepare for the worst," but rather to expect the best, especially when it comes to positive relationships, whilst remaining confident that if it's not perfect in whatever way, I'll be able to figure things out. That optimistic confidence and trust has a way of being a self-fulfilling prophecy a lot of the time.

Miranda

One_Girl 06-09-2014 01:58 PM

I have found that labels are hard to shake and that a premature label in one area can make it hard for a child to get help in another area they actually need help in. My dd got an iinaccurate flag at her first school as needing support in reading because of one low fluency score at the beginning of first grade and when shesswitched back midyear they tested her weekly in third grade and again in fourth after seeing that on her file. Each time I pushed them to look at her actual reading and comprehension level and each time they did and acknowledged that she was reading and comprehending above grade level but imo the label prevented her from getting enrichment until this year when she got a teacher who doesn't believe in looking at the files. My dd's attitude about school was much better this year.

Their focus on the potential problem in reading made it hard to get time to talk about the actual problem in math.
All the time for discussion during the problem solving meeting was spent with me probing into the validity of the reading concern and all of us deciding it was invalid. By the time they were ready to look at the math concern she was close to grade level in private tutoring and I was too horrific by our previous interactions to risk having something similar happen with math.

IdentityCrisisMama 06-09-2014 02:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by crazytownmama (Post 17673329)
(I think he might truly benefit from services this year to make the transition easier, but once we're over that... i don't think he'd really need them... and I don't want to make this year easier at the expense of his future schooling, yanno?

It may be that you don't even have a choice in this matter. If he is not currently in the system as needing special services and the only suspicion about him needing them is from you as his homeschooling parent, you may find that the school and district want to take a "wait and see" approach.

In our area, based on my experience with my DC, the IEP evaluation is recommended by the principal, not the parent.

My DC's elementary school, FYI, did great work in getting new kids up to speed on the school culture and expectations. ALL kids needed some extra attention coming in to the new school. Here's to hoping your DC's school prepares for this too and that your DC does well with the adjustment! :love

Linda on the move 06-10-2014 07:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by crazytownmama (Post 17673329)
I don't mean to come across as adversarial, i really don't... I am hoping for the best, but trying to prepare for the worst... and I don't want to make a decision that is going to impact him for years based on behavior issues he might have during the adjustment from home to school...(I think he might truly benefit from services this year to make the transition easier, but once we're over that... i don't think he'd really need them...

If you son doesn't have any special needs that wil require services after he adjust to school, then do not advocate for testing or services now . These are long processes, and not meant for a transition.

Talk to the principal and teacher, and they can provide informal supports.

There are legal protections in place to try to prevent kids from being labeled as special needs when they aren't, and I think you would have an uphill battle this year because transitioning from homeschool isn't a special need.

I honestly wouldn't ask for behavior supports unless you think it is likely that your son will be violent or aggressive . "behavior disorder " is an extremely difficult label to live down. Those kids are watched more closely , suspended more quickly.

What kinds of behavior issues does your son have, and what do you do for behavior supports at home?

What do you want the school to do for behavior support?

kathymuggle 06-10-2014 08:00 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by crazytownmama (Post 17673329)
I don't mean to come across as adversarial, i really don't...

I don't think you did.

I think you need to talk to and get input from local sources moreso than MDC. Regional differences can be very marked. What do people in you area say? Get input from more than one.

I understand your concerns with regard to labelling. I would go for it if it would facilitate meeting needs, but otherwise, I would try and avoid. I certainly wouldn't seek one out until he had been in school a good 6 months or so to see how he adjusts.

IdentityCrisisMama 06-10-2014 08:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kathymuggle (Post 17683145)
I don't think you should get advice on MDC on this. I think you need to talk to and get input from local sources…. regional differences can be very marked.

I agree that regional differences are pretty remarkable. Reading on the LAS forum shows that to be quite true. That said, I do think feedback on the LAS forum is useful - at least it is to me. In part because even within a district you have a big variety of experiences and feedback.

I can not tell you how often I have heard totally incorrect information from even someone in the exact same school as my DC's. Even teachers!

School life, policy, rules, culture, and etc. is one of the hardest places to get accurate information, I have found.

OP, at my DC's two most recent schools there is the "official word" and then there is "the practice". I have found very often that these two things are not always the same.

I will admit that many of the decisions I have made for my DC regarding school have been a combination of instinct and wading through rumor and mis-information. :o

I suggest befriending the principal. :love

contactmaya 06-10-2014 08:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by One_Girl (Post 17673825)
I have found that labels are hard to shake and that a premature label in one area can make it hard for a child to get help in another area they actually need help in. My dd got an iinaccurate flag at her first school as needing support in reading because of one low fluency score at the beginning of first grade and when shesswitched back midyear they tested her weekly in third grade and again in fourth after seeing that on her file. Each time I pushed them to look at her actual reading and comprehension level and each time they did and acknowledged that she was reading and comprehending above grade level but imo the label prevented her from getting enrichment until this year when she got a teacher who doesn't believe in looking at the files. My dd's attitude about school was much better this year.

Their focus on the potential problem in reading made it hard to get time to talk about the actual problem in math.
All the time for discussion during the problem solving meeting was spent with me probing into the validity of the reading concern and all of us deciding it was invalid. By the time they were ready to look at the math concern she was close to grade level in private tutoring and I was too horrific by our previous interactions to risk having something similar happen with math.

Gosh, what a bureaucratic muddle.
Are you saying they effectively ignored you when you told them the label wasnt valid, and that you would like them to focus on her real needs? Or is it, that because you are not there in school, you dont know what is happening day to day? I find it hard to believe that they just ignored you and continued to waste everyone's time... :eek:

contactmaya 06-10-2014 08:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Linda on the move (Post 17683049)

What kinds of behavior issues does your son have, and what do you do for behavior supports at home?

What do you want the school to do for behavior support?

I am wondering also if you had to adjust for his issues when homeschooling. I find that with ds1, his sensory issues which sound similar to your sons, only become a problem in the school environment, so that when teachers ask what i do at home, i cant give them an answer. ie, the hustle and bustle of the classroom is challenging for him to process and causes him to fidget, make noises. I n addition, he misses alot of information because of auditory processing issues.

My ds2, would appeared to have had issues at school based on his home behavior, problems with transitions, difficulty sustaining attention, sensory issues, but is thriving at school, with none of these difficulties apparent at all.

One_Girl 06-10-2014 09:35 AM

They pretty much ignored me and my concerns during the problem solving meeting. It's very easy to know where a child is with reading and I had her data from grades, teacher reports for two years, the reports from the current teacher, and testing done through a private tutoring center. I was also not the one who decided the concerns weren't valid, the team did after I pushed for more information about her abilities during the meetings.

Our state has a one minute fluency test that tests how many words a child can read in a minute and the problem was with speed reading ability not reading ability, a problem that didn't show up on her formal tests. In referring for services the law requires multiple measures be used but her principal and the teachers had a tendency to freak out about one, by their owm admission, then back off when a parent was knowledgeable about the law and pushed for a full picture of ability.

When I spoke with each teacher they seemed worried about her math skills but that isn't what came out in the meetings. It was weird. In thr third grade meeting they claimed concern because they did a fluency test weekly and some weeks she read 120 words a minute and some 95 but she'd always received the high score on the test, except the first one in first grade, and she waa in the highest reading group reading and comprehending two years above grade level. Our meeting to look at her math skills was taken up by us discussing these facts and them deciding we needed no intervention in reading and they threw in having her do a math computer game for half an hour a week then school ended for the year (we were a midyear transfer). The next year I took a wait and see approach and the teacher was fine with giving informal support until two thirds of the way through the teacher was worried about math again so we had another problem solving meeting. When I got there they started in on the fluency again it was pretty much the same thing, she was reading between about 110 and 130 words a minute and needed to be up beyonf 140 but her actual reading ability was beyond grade level as assessed by their measurements so it was decided that she just needed to practice reading faster orally but no intervention was necessary. We didn't get time to address math, they had another two meetings I wasn't able to go to because they gave me a weeks notice and I couldn't get time off. I did get the records from the meeting and in each one they had inaccuracies that didn't match the scores they has provided me or the information on record and I got so frustrated with their unwillingness to even look at her records while evaluating concerns that I demanded a stop to the process in writing and just stuck with private tutoring. I may have been able to push them into making a real evaluation of her needs but it was such a stressful and drawn our process I found it faster to just address them with private support.

whatsnextmom 06-10-2014 10:16 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by crazytownmama (Post 17673329)
(I think he might truly benefit from services this year to make the transition easier, but once we're over that... i don't think he'd really need them... and I don't want to make this year easier at the expense of his future schooling, yanno?

What "services" are you expecting he'd get? What does the school offer? In our area, there is speech. There are some services for learning disabilities. There are some special needs classrooms on certain campuses but for more extreme cases. However, there won't be services for "transitions" and the like.

What you decide to share with the school really depends on what they have to offer. Like I said, if he has something specific that will be seen as a behavioral issue but is really due to a disorder of some sort.... you should share. If you just think he won't be used to sitting in his seat, or he's a little squirrely then nothing outside maybe a comment to the teacher "just so you know, he's been homeschooled and might need a little help on the school routine the first week."

crazytownmama 06-10-2014 05:07 PM

Transitions/new experiences are very hard for him. He's been doing religious ed for 3 years now. The first year, getting him in to class... getting him to STAY in his class... those were very hard things to do (he'd sit, then run right out again. Or he'd start to have a fit...loud wailing and flailing...). The next year, it was easier (although I still had to walk him to his class). This past year... I've finally made it to the drop off lanes with the rest of the moms... to be honest, i've suspected he might be on the autism spectrum at times... but, other times so not. I don't know. I do know that so many people have told me its a discipline thing and I should just disengage and walk away... but I honestly don't think he'd be able to handle that. (I could easily do that with my second son if he did the same things... because I know he might WANT me to stay, but he didn't NEED me there. Am i making any sense?)

His reading isn't up to speed (we just found out that he has a vision issue) but his comprehension is fine. And, he CAN read... he just can't read pages at a time... Math is similar in that he can do it, but he is NOT fast enough at it (that might be my insecurity -- and that he CAN be slow at it now)...

I am just so conflicted about it all, and trying to pretend like its going to be this great thing for him so he looks forward to going (he does NOT want to go)...

Linda on the move 06-10-2014 05:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by crazytownmama (Post 17673329)
I don't mean to come across as adversarial, i really don't... I am hoping for the best, but trying to prepare for the worst... and I don't want to make a decision

We homeschooled in a relaxed way until the the kids were 10 and 12, and then they started school. My oldest is both gifted and the autism spectrum with intense sensory issues, a social anxiety disorder, and significant fine motor deficits. She is now in college, and I now work in a school with special needs children and I'm working on my special ed teaching certificate.

The worst case scenario isn't that you won't know the right thing to "fight" for. The worst case scenario is that in spite of the you and the school working in partnership, your son takes a long time to adjust and is completely miserable. Part of this has to come from HIM, nobody at the school has a magic wand that if you fight hard enough, you can force them to wave.

The special ed teachers at our school act as consultants for the gen ed teachers. There are informal conversations, and advice is given of things to try to help kids *who don't have any kind of label but are struggling* to be successful.

Right now, you have no idea how your son will do, so you CANNOT make a decision. It would be a bogus decision based on nothing. You are asking how what to fight over, and its not the right question. Ask how to build really positive communication with his teacher, ask how long to wait for him to adjust to one situation before requesting a change. Ask how you work WITH the professionals who have dedicated their lives to helping kids, like your son, be successful.

Asking what your should fight for is is going in believing that they are doing their best to keep your son from good things in life. I only had positive experiences with my DD's school, and now I work in a lowly ranked school with lots of English Language Learners, and I watch teachers work their butts off to help kids be successful.


Quote:

Originally Posted by kathymuggle (Post 17683145)
I think you need to talk to and get input from local sources moreso than MDC. Regional differences can be very marked.


Although there are differences from state to state and district to district, in the US, the bare minimum any school can do is covered under Federal Law (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004), which includes due process safeguards. One of those safeguards is that students cannot be classified as having special needs if there is any chance that their current difficulties are due to lack of qualify instruction, which is there to prevent kids who don't really have a special need from being labeled as having one, but makes it difficult to transition special needs kids who have been homeschooled.



Quote:

Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama (Post 17672633)
The school proposed pulling her out for special services. It was a small school so the only options for this sort of intervention was to pull her out for PE and Math.

In my state, if a child is pulled out during core instruction (reading, writing, or math) then the teacher who pulls them out is responsible for making up that gen ed curriculum. So kids who are in gen ed and received services are pulled during PE, art, music, etc. Sometimes they miss recess.

It sucks, and all staff members at my school agree it sucks.

None the less, when you can't pull kids during half the day, and you try to coordinate with all the grades, it just sucks.

This is, IMHO, another reason to not advocate for services as a way of adjusting to school. They are often provided during the most fun parts of the school day.

crazytownmama 06-10-2014 05:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Linda on the move (Post 17685177)
. Ask how to build really positive communication with his teacher, ask how long to wait for him to adjust to one situation before requesting a change. Ask how you work WITH the professionals who have dedicated their lives to helping kids, like your son, be successful.
.

:yeah

I have no frame of reference for the school system, and I don't know how to do any of that. I get his teacher assignment before he starts school... and I'm planning to take him to school to do test-runs on how to get to his classroom/bathroom/etc. (the lady that i dropped the paperwork off with said this would be fine). But, HOW do I start a dialogue with his teacher? When? I don't want her blindsided, but I don't want to prejudice her either... I know teachers spend time in the classroom before school starts... I would love to take him by just to say hi ... but have no idea if this is even possible...

IdentityCrisisMama 06-10-2014 06:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by crazytownmama (Post 17685289)
I have no frame of reference for the school system, and I don't know how to do any of that.

Up thread KM mentioned how regionally different some of this stuff is. In my town it is even very different from school to school.

I can give a tip that, IMO, it's important as a public school parent to attend the orientations, meetings, and social gatherings offered by the school.

Many schools often have a parent organization (like a PTO) as well as some sort of parent contact for classes/grades (like a "room parent). Getting involved with these folks will also help you navigate the waters.

I was worried sending my 6th grader to a new school knowing that she had still resolving learning issues (especially writing skills). I didn't make contact with teachers because that just wasn't really done at this school. When I finally got to meet with teachers several months in, I found that these teachers already really knew my DC and things were going along super well.

My DC's elementary is super small and there was time to meet with teachers before school, a volunteer day before the start of the year, meetings very early in the year, chance in the morning to chat with the principal, opportunity to walk kids in to the room and talk with the teacher about the day...

Her current school is a drop-and-go.

It just really depends.

Have you gotten a chance to meet any of the families at the school? That's an ideal way to get the lay of the land. :love

JollyGG 06-10-2014 11:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by crazytownmama (Post 17685289)
:yeah

I have no frame of reference for the school system, and I don't know how to do any of that. I get his teacher assignment before he starts school... and I'm planning to take him to school to do test-runs on how to get to his classroom/bathroom/etc. (the lady that i dropped the paperwork off with said this would be fine). But, HOW do I start a dialogue with his teacher? When? I don't want her blindsided, but I don't want to prejudice her either... I know teachers spend time in the classroom before school starts... I would love to take him by just to say hi ... but have no idea if this is even possible...

This one is actually easy. Here's my favorite method so I don't feel to awkward. I find that back to school night is a crazy mess and there is no time to visit, as are most other formal chances to meet or visit with the teacher. Instead I send a quick email and say "I have some classroom supplies I'd like to drop off. Is there a time you will be available so I can get those to you." The 12 pack of Kleenex I bring on the trip as my pretext always goes over well and they know this is a way for me to informally have a better visit with them and are usually prepared to sit down with me for a few minutes and talk about my son. I usually just make sure they have my contact information and stress that I would like to know of any issues so we can resolve them together as soon as they occur. I mention that I have a few concerns but don't actually detail them until the teacher has had a chance to see how it goes without me coloring her perception. I usually leave with a request for a meeting to talk about how it's going several weeks after school has started after everyone has settled in.

I then find that frequent volunteering gives me a chance to see how things are going in the classroom. Every teacher my kids have ever had has also taken that opportunity to informally touch base with me about how things are going and issues that we are trying to work through.

My daughter just got an IEP for reading and it was a long process because there are so many safeguards in place to try and avoid placing a label where it doesn't belong. The staff at the IEP even admitted that ours was an unusual IEP meeting as there were no behavioral issues of concern. Usually academic issues have festered for so long that acting out behaviors have also started cropping up by the time a student makes it all the way through. It was also clear that they anticipated dismissing my daughters IEP just as soon as she didn't need it anymore. My daughters current IEP is due to reading delays. She had a speech IEP prior to this and that one has already been dismissed. They look at the IEP yearly and do a full reevaluation every 3 years (per law). We kept the speech IEP for the full three until she didn't requalify at the the full reevaluation as a chance to reinforce the gains she'd made the first two years. She could have been dismissed from it after 2 years. They anticipate dismissing the reading IEP at one of the annual reviews as they just don't see her needing it all 3 year. The hope is to have it dismissed after a year, two at the most.

We all anticipate her participation in the gifted program just as soon as we get the reading issues resolved. The reason she won't participate in the gifted program just yet is because - 1. Her scores just miss the cutoff, likely due to the reading delay, 2. She is missing 45 minutes of class every day for reading help already. Additional time for gifted pull out doesn't seem appropriate to either her teachers, her resource teachers or myself.

In our area gifted education is not mandated. Having a 2E kid actually means that the team can sometimes put gifted education supports into the IEP. The IEP is a legal document. If you and her team decide to put advanced supports in that IEP it then becomes legally binding. For example, if I were to decide an IEP for my son's ADHD was appropriate (I don't) we could put into that IEP requirements that he be able to pretest out of Math units covering materials he's already mastered. That then becomes a legally binding requirement at school.

salr 06-11-2014 06:46 AM

I think One_Girl's experience shows that it's not always prudent to go in assuming that the school will want to do the right or smart thing. Sometimes you DO have to fight for your kid. Sometimes trying to use the word "advocate" instead is inaccurate. That's why I think preparing for the worst is actually the best thing to do. As long as you can manage to go in and act like you expect cooperation and a good relationship.

But these questions of what to do and how to go about it are essential. I would never just trust the school to do the right thing. I like the ideas of just getting involved in general. And then using that to get one on one time with the teacher.

Hopefully everything goes smoothly!

IdentityCrisisMama 06-11-2014 07:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by salr (Post 17686489)
I think One_Girl's experience shows that it's not always prudent to go in assuming that the school will want to do the right or smart thing.

I think a lot of this depends on the individual parents and how they process their assumptions about situations and people.

I am definitely a person who absolutely has to assume the best in my children's teachers and admins. I simply can not ask the right questions unless my underlying feelings about the situation are positive. I know this from experience.

But I also know that I don't have blind optimism.

I have been through the entire emotional process of acceptance for what public school has to offer. From wanting to be a teacher as a young adult, to having my own child and thinking public school was just the most pathetic sub-par un-idealistic institution ever and refusing to send my kid there, to finding a school that was a great fit for my kid, to falling in love (head over heals) for the community values and power of public education, to deciding, again, that I would like to be a public school teacher.

I know from first-hand experience that public schooling has its challenges but being aware of that does not, IMO, conflict with deciding that I will give the school my best assumptions on the day that I decide to let my kid through those doors.

In fact, for me (just me, not someone else), those positive assumptions about the school and the teachers is essential to school success for my kid. I think there is a strong relationship between MY relationship and feelings about school and my child's education.

It sounds odd, I guess, but OP if you are someone who is really attached emotionally to your child (and I imagine you are) please keep in mind the possibility that your child may well be filtering his expectations through your eyes.

I'm a big old atheist who also believes that the world (and our kids!) tend to live up and down to our expectations. We can be aware of potential problems, challenges, limitations, and still hold positive assumptions and expectations.

Linda on the move 06-11-2014 08:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama (Post 17686569)

In fact, for me (just me, not someone else), those positive assumptions about the school and the teachers is essential to school success for my kid. I think there is a strong relationship between MY relationship and feelings about school and my child's education.

It sounds odd, I guess, but OP if you are someone who is really attached emotionally to your child (and I imagine you are) please keep in mind the possibility that your child may well be filtering his expectations through your eyes.

This is so important it deserves to be repeated.

If you go anywhere looking for a fight, you can find one. If you go in expecting to build a partnership, you often can create one.

moominmamma 06-11-2014 10:00 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Linda on the move (Post 17686705)
This is so important it deserves to be repeated.

And repeated again, lol!

I find that so often there's a self-fulfilling prophecy effect. Parents who expect trouble view trivial comments and occurrences through that lens, find their biases affirmed and then unwittingly through their defensive reactions contribute to creating actual problems. As much as we worry about biasing the teacher against our children by sharing too much information about potential problems, we also need to worry about biasing ourselves and our children against the school by worrying too much about potential problems.

Obviously we don't want to blindly assume everything it great when there are stark indicators that it has gone terribly wrong. Nor should we assume that if there are problems it is pointless to advocate -- or even "fight" -- to change them. But generally I've always tried to work from the assumption that everyone is doing the best they can within their means and from the knowledge the have, and that communication is the best route to solving issues that come up.

Miranda

IdentityCrisisMama 06-11-2014 11:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by moominmamma (Post 17687169)
I find that so often there's a self-fulfilling prophecy effect. Parents who expect trouble view trivial comments and occurrences through that lens, find their biases affirmed and then unwittingly through their defensive reactions contribute to creating actual problems.

Really well put. And I agree.

The misconceptions that can come from a lack of good communication, negative assumptions, and rumors is somethin'.

kathymuggle 06-11-2014 01:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by salr (Post 17686489)
I think One_Girl's experience shows that it's not always prudent to go in assuming that the school will want to do the right or smart thing. Sometimes you DO have to fight for your kid. Sometimes trying to use the word "advocate" instead is inaccurate. That's why I think preparing for the worst is actually the best thing to do. As long as you can manage to go in and act like you expect cooperation and a good relationship.

But these questions of what to do and how to go about it are essential. I would never just trust the school to do the right thing. I like the ideas of just getting involved in general. And then using that to get one on one time with the teacher.

Hopefully everything goes smoothly!


I appreciate this post.


I know several posters on this thread have had their children change schools because they were not getting their needs met at the school they were in. This is not a recrimination. Sometime great schools meet needs, and sometimes they don't. Ditto poor and mediocre schools.


While I *do* think all adults should try and check their biases and preconceptions, I also think we need to be realistic. It is not all sunshine and roses all the time - and I can almost guarantee that if your child stays in school long term it will not all be smooth sailing even if you are open and doing your best as a parent. You are not the only one in the parent/school relationship.


That being said, it seems everyone is agreement (which doesn't happen that often, lol) that you might want to wait on asking for identification/labeling.


Good luck!


Kathy (who homeschools one child, has one senior in high school (in school since grade 10) and one grade 10 (in school since grade 7) )


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