Clarify your goals. Before meetings, write down what you want to accomplish. Decide what is most important, and what you are willing to negotiate.
Be a good listener.
Allow school officials to explain their opinions. If you don’t understand what someone is saying, ask for clarification. “What I hear you saying is…” can help ensure that both parties understand. Offer new solutions. You have the advantage of
not being a “part of the system,” and may have new ideas. Do your research and find examples of what other schools have done.
Keep the focus. The school system is dealing with a large number of children; you are only concerned with your child. Help the meeting stay focused on your child. Mention your child’s name frequently, don’t drift into generalizations, and resist the urge to fight larger battles.
- Keep things in perspective. A learning disability isn’t insurmountable. Remind
yourself that everyone faces obstacles. It’s up to you as a parent to teach your child how to deal with those obstacles without becoming discouraged or overwhelmed. Don’t let the tests, school bureaucracy, and endless paperwork distract you from what’s really important—giving your child plenty of emotional and moral support.
- Become your own expert. Do your own research and keep abreast of new developments in learning disability programs, therapies, and educational techniques. You may be tempted to look to others—teachers, therapists, doctors—for solutions, especially at first. But you’re the foremost expert on your child, so take charge when it comes to finding the tools he or she needs in order to learn.
- Be an advocate for your child. You may have to speak up time and time again to get special help for your child. Embrace your role as a proactive parent and work on your communication skills. It may be frustrating at times, but by remaining calm and reasonable, yet firm, you can make a huge difference for your child.
- Remember that your influence outweighs all others. Your child will follow your lead. If you approach learning challenges with optimism, hard work, and a sense of humor, your child is likely to embrace your perspective—or at least see the challenges as a speed bump, rather than a roadblock. Focus your energy on learning what works for your child and implementing it the best you can.
Recognize the limitations of the school system
Parents sometimes make the mistake of investing all of their time and energy into the school as the primary solution for their child’s learning disability. It is better to recognize that the school situation for your child will probably never be perfect. Too many regulations and limited funding mean that the services and accommodations your child receives may not be exactly what you envision for them, and this will probably cause you frustration, anger and stress.
Try to recognize that the school will be only one part of the solution for your child and leave some of the stress behind. Your attitude (of support, encouragement and optimism) will have the most lasting impact on your child.