Working with Your Child’s School

You may have a lot of ideas, questions and solutions for certain problems when you consider approaching your child’s teacher and other school administration. Before your first meeting and even before your first phone call, your nerves and emotions may be running high. We have provided a list of steps you can take to make the most of the meetings with your child’s school.

Before the Meeting

  • Request a copy of ALL your child’s school records. The school may charge a minimal copying fee. Having a complete set of records is important to advocating for your child.
  • Prepare a list of questions and concerns. Prepare goals and other information ahead of time that you want to cover.
  • Rehearse what you want to say.

During the Meeting

  • Take a friend, family member, or advocate to school meetings. This other person can assist you to take notes remember what occurred at the meeting and make you feel more confident. Make sure to list who was in attendance at each meeting.
  • Truly listen to the other sides position.
  • Try to think about the interests that underlie the positions. Use these questions to bring out their reasons:
    • Why is that so important to you?
    • Why are you suggesting that?
    • I don’t know what you are talking about. Can you explain your ideas?
    • Imagine that you got what you needed … what problem would it take care of?
    • If this were your child what would you do…?
    • What is your best success?
  • Use silence. Constant talking can distract the team from the main concerns. Ask a question or make a statement and then wait for responses.
  • Talk about successes with your child in the classroom and with other children at school.
  • Evaluate all compromises to make sure that your child’s best interest is at the heart of it.
  • Never sign anything that you do not understand or agree with. You may take the paper work with you and think about it or get more advice about it.
  • If you have regular meetings and have established a personal relationship with the administrators and teachers, bring some type of small snack to the meetings.

After the Meeting

  • Send thank you notes after meetings. Also, use this note to summarize the main points of the meeting. This serves two goals of encouraging good work and keeping a record of the meetings.

Ongoing Steps

  • Keep all school, medical, and other records organized in a three ring binder. Put the date on all notes and documents.
  • Give any documentation of changes in your child’s disability to the school. Verbally telling school staff is NOT enough. It needs to be in their records.
  • Get involved with your child’s school. Volunteer because then the staff will get to know you better and you may form a relationship with them which in turn may increase your collaboration efforts.
  • Attend trainings or join the Local Task Force to learn more about your rights and how to work with schools. Knowledge is power.

Have you dealt with your child’s teacher or other school administration? How have you handled it? Do you have tips that have worked for you? Click here to tell us about it.