The Right School for Your Special Needs Child

December 21, 2007

Finding the right school for your child is important. Your child's school will help shape your child's future. So, we've compiled a list of tips you can use while picking a school for your special needs child.

Where to Start When Looking For A Special Needs School?

Schools may offer a wide range of choices for your special needs child. From a regular classroom with staff support to a resource class for extra help to a segregated special education class, the choices may seem overwhelming. So, how does a parent decide what classroom will provide the best learning for their special needs child? Parents must understand all children grow continuously, and have different levels of social and emotional stability, physical and intellectual capabilities. However, each of these should be considered when picking the right classroom environment for your special needs child. Parents should make sure their child's physical, emotional, social, and intellectual needs are all taken care of in a school program, as their child learns and grows. Learning to read and do basic calculations is fundamental in your child's future learning. And this will help your child develop a better sense of independence.

Picking a Special Needs School Environment

When picking a school for your child, it is important to look at whether the school practices the notions of 'inclusion'. In other words, does the school have enthusiastic teachers who use a variety of teaching methods to teach students with different learning needs? Check to see if the school helps children understand that all kids aren't the same. Does the school organize events to promote the diversity of its students? Look at its past events. Does the school feel friendly, lively, and safe when you visit? Go visit and talk to your child's potential teachers and meet with principal.

Meet the Principal of the School

If you want to know if a certain school is right for your child, visit the principal and the teachers. The principal is the driving force behind a successful school. If your child has special needs, you should meet the principal because she will be overlooking the implementation of your child's individual education plan (IEP). When you talk to the principal ask her if she took any courses in special education or what her view is on 'inclusion' and how the school tries to integrate students with special needs. Be sure to ask all your questions regarding your child's education and how the special education program can help your child's future.

Get to Know Your Child's Teachers

After meeting the principal it will be worthwhile for you to meet your child's teacher. Teachers play a crucial role in ensuring that your child succeeds. They also leave a lasting impact on students. Studies show that weak students taught by teachers with excellent teaching methods will outshine average students taught by teachers with poor instructions. So, ask your child's teacher what instructional practices he or she plans to use to teach your child.

If your child's classroom teacher is different from your child's special education teacher, find out how often the two teachers: communicate, work collaboratively, and meet to discuss your child's progress.

Find out how your child will be accessed, taught, and evaluated compared to other students. Ask how your child's teacher(s) will evaluate learning, and what methods of teaching they will use to engage your child.

Communication With the School

Another thing you should consider when picking a school for your child is your comfort level with the school. Do you feel like the school is welcoming? Does it offer open lines of communication about the special education program, between the staff? Do you see your child being happy with the kind of special education program that the school provides?

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