As your child’s greatest advocate, you alone must determine whether the current education he is receiving is meeting his needs. In order to make this assessment, you must visit your child’s classroom, observe his teacher, and see how your child interacts and behaves as a student.
Ask yourself the following questions as you make observations:
The Classroom setting:
1. Is the room bright and lively, full of imaginative decorations, or is it drab and dreary?
2. Does there appear to be plenty of tools and materials for active learning, such as books, blocks, art supplies, and toys for imaginative play?
3. Is the room organized into areas for reading, art, free play, and instruction? Or are the desks lined up in rows that take up the entire room?
4. Is your child’s seat located where he can see properly and pay attention?
5. Does the work seem adequately challenging to your child, without overwhelming her?
6. Is your child’s particular learning style understood by the teacher/s? Will adaptations be made to help her learn?
7. Are subjects taught by lecture? Are the children given opportunities to learn through active exploration? Do they get to touch, feel, make, experience? Or are they just sitting in desks with workbooks?
Your Child’s Teacher:
8. Does the teacher have any classroom assistants? Can she spend adequate time working one-on-one with your child?
9. Does she teach from the front of the room, calling out to all the students? Does she work in small groups? Does she rove from desk to desk, offering personal assistance?
10. What are her methods for classroom discipline? How does she reward good work or behavior?
11. How well does she communicate with you? Do you like her? Do you feel comfortable talking about all your child’s issues with her? Your relationship with her is important.
12. Does he seem generally happy about going to school? What does he say about it?
13. Does he appear to be following along with the rest of the class? Does he pay attention to the teacher?
14. Do you feel he is placed with a group of students who have similar abilities and disabilities? Are there any higher-achieving students who can role model for him?
15. Is he learning and progressing the way you feel he should?
If you feel dissatisfied with what you observe, you have a lot of options, which I will discuss in a future blog. Bring minor concerns up with your child’s teacher. Major concerns should be discussed with your child’s case worker. Your son or daughter’s future depends on you determining the best setting for his education.