46 LONGISLANDPRESS.COM • AUGUST 2019
FAMILY & EDUCATION
PROPERLY ADVOCATING FOR STUDENTS
continued from page 45
Attend parent involvement events or
volunteer to chaperone or assist. This
helps the school become familiar with
you, which is important should you or
your child need something.
“If your child is making poor grades,
has a learning or physical disability,
mental health diagnosis, has defiance
or outburst, or shows aggression for
others, ask for more information about
IEP (Individualized Education Program)
or 504 plans in order to make a
plan with the school for any needed accommodations
such as class size, extra
time on tests, or having an aide,” says
Ashton Burdick, a nationally certified
counselor providing multi-systemic
therapy (MST) for children and teens
in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
“Go with your gut,” says Lisa Lightner,
whose Philadelphia-based consulting
business, A Day in Our Shoes, offers
resources and information for parents
of children with disabilities.
Most children have good and bad
days at school. They grumble about
an assignment or a teacher or a friend
that has upset him/her. The next day
or week, everything is fine.
“But when a child constantly complains,
or when his report card shows
failing or falling grades or indicates
behavior issues, investigate,” says
Nancy Brigham, education researcher
and author of A Fragile Enterprise:
Yesterday’s Schools and Tomorrow’s
Problems typically fall into three
categories: instructional issues, social
emotional issues, and bullying.
Determine what’s wrong. “Children
aren’t always the best reporters. ‘My
teacher hates me,’ may mean that the
child is having trouble doing the work,
that the teacher seems to ignore him,
or that s/he has behavior issues that
cause him to act out in class,” says
ASK FOR HELP
If the issue is instructional, start with
the teacher. If your child acts out with
only one teacher, meet with them. If it
is more generalized, try to meet with
your child’s cluster of teachers, or
speak to a guidance counselor or social
worker, suggests Brigham.
If your child has been sent to the office,
make an appointment with that
For bullying, round up every adult
involved in his/her education, individually
or as a group. See them ASAP.
Follow up via email to document
that you’ve been trying to solve the
Get a counselor for your child. They
may identify a diagnosis that assists
with qualifying your child for an IEP,
and they may be able to work in the
school with your child.
ASK PROPER QUESTIONS
Don’t be confrontational. You want
discussion, not a defensive teacher.
Ask,“What do you see as Johnny’s
academic strengths?” This approach
focuses the conversation on your child
in a positive way.
Find common ground. You both want
Jenny to do her homework. If the work
is too challenging, ask,“What can I do
at home to help?” says Brigham.
Leave with a plan for ongoing communication.
This keeps the door open to
discuss further steps.
“Don’t report your child's teacher to
the dean or principal. Give them the
courtesy of communicating first,” says
Fran Walfish, Ph.D., family psychotherapist
and author of The Self-Aware
Keep cool. Warns Burdick, “It might
feel good to yell at that teacher who
seems to be singling your kid out, but
the principal and faculty may take you
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