Blog #87~Special Needs Parent Checklist for Visiting a New School
It’s almost spring…… that time of year when the scent of IEP’s are in the air. IEP stands for Individualized Education Plan.
The team as a whole looks at the student’s current level of functioning and together design goals and supports needed to provide appropriate education for the student. The placement of a child with special needs should always be in the least restrictive environment possible.
Nick has Down syndrome and autism. He uses a visual schedule to navigate through the school…….
Parents with a child who has special needs can arrange to visit schools and see what the classroom environment looks like. Here are some tips and helpful questions that should be asked on the tour. I would suggest designating one notebook to take to any meetings and trainings related to your child with special needs.
My trusty, battered notebook……. 🙂
Questions to ask on school visit:
*What are the location, size and physical layout of the classroom(s)?
*How many students are in the classroom? What is the ratio of students: adults?
*What instructional methods and materials will be used?
*How will the curriculum be modified for a student with special needs?
*What assistive technology is available?
*What behavior techniques and plans will be used?
*What does the school day look like? (Ask for a printed schedule and to sit in on classes.)
*What kinds of inclusion opportunities do children in special education classrooms have to interact with general education students?
Observation of class and school:
*Watch the dynamics of the classroom. How does the teacher interact with students? Does the teacher individualize instruction?
*What activities were children engaged? Would they be appropriate for your child?
*Do the classrooms and staff seem cheerful?
*Is student work displayed and is the classroom organized or would it be too distracting for your child?
*Are the curriculum, equipment, technology and educational supports up to date?
*How well are the facilities maintained? (Clean bathrooms, lighting, safe grounds, etc…)
*Is there a sensory room available in the classroom or school building?
Once a school and classroom placement decision is made be sure and get pictures or do a video of the new setting for your child. This social story should include the entry, locker, classrooms, lunch room, gym and any other relevant areas the child will be using in the school. Review the social story or video several times before the first day of classes.
Here’s Nick visiting the middle school back in 6th grade. He was skeptical about this new environment as indicated by not wanting to remove his coat and keeping it zipped up to the top……..
As a parent of a child with special needs, remember that you know your child best. You have the right to get in there and see what the classroom environment looks like in order to make an informed decision at your child’s IEP meeting. That’s what is in my noggin this week.