A new school year has already started, but it’s not too late to use these tips for building a good working relationship with your child’s team. Special Education is unique because there may be quite a few members on a student’s team who will be spending many hours during the school day with your child. This, in itself, is overwhelming. Trying to keep track of who does what, when, where, and how.
Most schools provide the opportunity at open house for parents to begin building a relationship with the individuals working with their child. Take advantage of this to establish an immediate connection to show the staff that you are a parent who is involved and available if necessary.
If you missed the open house, don’t worry. Coming soon will be conferences, another great opportunity to make a connection with your child’s team. If they aren’t already, make sure everyone – Special Ed Teacher, OT, Speech Therapist, Case Manager, etc. – knows when your conference is. If they can’t make, be sure to set up another time to meet with them to discuss your child’s progress and needs.
In my experience, the staff are inviting to any help or recommendations about a student. They have many different students and all have different needs. Make yourself available in any way you can via phone, email, notebook, etc. This also expresses that you would like communication and how often it is needed. If you feel it is necessary, request contact information for all members of the team, so you are not chasing around after someone when you really need to speak with them.
During IEP meetings is another time to get to know the individuals working with your child. If there are members not included in the meeting, request them to be there or schedule a time to speak with them directly. There is no harm in asking specifics. It is your child’s education that is most important.
One terrific strategy I have learned from my experience and other families’ experiences is staying as positive as possible. Delivering messages and speaking to the staff respectfully will get you much farther than burning bridges. Being thankful and considerate of the staff’s hard work is crucial. They will be willing to work even harder when they feel appreciated so when a tough situation arises it will be understood the importance of communication and resolve. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to speak up. It’s what works to find the best learning environment for your child.