If you have a child with special needs such as a physical disability, autism, or down's syndrome, you always want to be sure that the other people in their lives are treating them well and with respect. However, when your child starts going to school and spends eight or more hours a day away from you, it can be difficult to be sure how your child is interacting with their classmates and teachers. Concerns about your child's well-being at school are understandable, especially if they have special needs that need to be accommodated. Get to know what you can do if you suspect that something isn't right with your child's school experience so you can be sure you are doing what you can to help and protect your child.
Request an IEP Meeting
IEPs, also known as individualized educational plans, are put into place by schools and parents to help children with disabilities thrive and find success in school. If you do not feel like your child is being treated the way they need or that they are not doing as well as they are capable of in school, you can request what is known as an IEP meeting.
The process of creating an education plan for your child is not perfect and can take time and several meetings. What you are perceiving as mistreatment of your child, such as them claiming their teacher is mean or not helping them, could just be an issue related to the IEP. Your child may simply need more support or a different approach to learning.
It is best to request an IEP meeting before you take other steps to address your child's issues in school as it is the simplest solution and is the least confrontational with the school. The meeting will also allow you to take a look at your child's progress reports and see how they are doing on their plan.
Ask to Perform a Classroom Observation
After you have taken a look at your child's IEP plan and progress, if you still have worries or concerns, you can ask to sit in and observe what is going on in the classroom. Many parents feel as though they are not able to access their children while they are in school or the classroom. But if are worried and simply want to see what happens in school, a classroom observation or teacher observation is within your parental rights.
The school will likely not be receptive to a classroom observation attempt if you just show up or do not make a formal request to the school to observe the class. They may feel as if you are acting hostile or may just feel caught off-guard. Additionally, on days in which state testing is being done or the like, having a parent in the classroom is impossible because of testing rules and regulations.
As such, it is best to contact the school and request to sit in and observe your child's class (or classes) on a specific date. This shows the school and the teacher respect and will ensure that you choose a date that does not conflict with any testing or other special activities.
These tips can help you better ensure that your child with special needs has the best experience possible in school.