The October Surprise: New School Year, New Teacher, Same Old Challenges.

by kconroy on November 3, 2017

It’s that time of year again. The leaves are changing colors, we’ve packed away our summer clothes, we’re gearing up for the holidays and parents all over are attending their first parent/teacher conference of the new school year. Many parents of students with special needs are in for a shock when they learn that their child continues to struggle with the same learning, behavior or emotional challenges.

 Welcome to the “October Surprise.”

Last year, teachers and school officials may have assured you that your child just needed a “fresh start” or had to “mature” or simply needed to do more “independent reading” over the summer. You listened because, after all, they’re the experts. You followed their advice by electing to “wait and see” for another school year. You may have switched to a charter school or even sacrificed to pay for private school. However, this October’s benchmark tests, disciplinary citations and teacher reports show that the “experts” had it wrong. Many parents are surprised, discouraged and angry. This is the October Surprise.

What can you do to avoid the October Surprise?

  1. If your child is struggling at school, request help early. Some school districts wrongly claim that they won’t even test a child for special education help until at least the 2nd grade. Don’t settle for this “wait and see” approach.
  2. If possible, meet with your child’s new teacher and visit the classroom in the Spring–before you agree to place your child in her class. That way, you can give your input as to whether or not it would be a “good fit” for your child.
  3. Ask your child’s teacher for a yearly schedule of benchmark tests. Then request your child’s scores immediately instead of waiting for his report card or IEP meeting. Ask the teacher to explain how to interpret the scores and how they compare to other students.
  4.  If your child is struggling with behavior or emotional regulation, observe her in the classroom for a day or two so that you have direct information on how she is functioning in the classroom and what supports she may need in order to succeed.
  5. If the school or school district won’t help you, seek outside advice. Look to your child’s pediatrician or therapist, tutor, education advocacy agencies or even a special education attorney for guidance.

Most importantly, remember that when it comes to your child, you are the true expert.

We appreciate your continued support and referrals. ADAMS ESQ now has offices throughout California and Nevada to serve you. If you believe you may need legal assistance as your child transitions to the new school year, please contact us toll free at: 800-785-6713 or visit us on the web at: www.AdamsEsq.com.

Join Us on November 11, 2017, Jean Murrell Adams Esq. will be presenting “The Top 5 IEP Mistakes & How To Avoid Them” workshop with Family Resource Center Education ProgramSupport for Families of Children with Disabilities from 9 am to 12 noon. Families and Professionals are welcomed to register, please call 415-920-5040 or click here 

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