Happy Holidays

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Happy Holidays from Confident Solutions! We wish you a wonderful holiday filled with new memories and a joyous New Year.

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

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Friday’s Inspiration

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With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

Assume Positive Intent

Advocate-noun. One that supports or promotes the interests of another.

Last night we had a big reminder. Everyone is doing the best they can with what they know. As the school year progresses, we have to continue to remind ourselves that, typically, people don’t want to hurt or cause harm to others. Oh sure, when sitting in meetings, we sometimes run across those who are stubborn or can only think one way about a situation. However, we have found that their intent is not to cause harm to our children. All of our actions and reactions are based on  the story we tell ourselves about any given situation. Often times when others know our story and we try to understand their stories, our perspective shifts and we are able to compromise more easily.

Holding true to our mission, we view advocacy as helping the child.  Through that, we work on listening to both sides at meetings and bridging the gap between the school and the parent.  The focus remains on what is in the child’s best interest with what their current needs are.

Our hope is that school staff can see how lonely and overwhelming this process is for parents. Without meaning to, most schools have set up a us vs. you scenario. Teachers and administrators, when a parent walks in the door, welcome them. Invite them to sit next to you. Offer a hug or word of encouragement. During the meeting, be mindful of how you speak to the parents. Be careful not to talk down to or over their heads.Parents are the people on your team who have the most information about this child. If you feel you are becoming defensive, ask yourself why.

Our hope for the parent is they come in the meeting with an open heart. The teachers sitting around this table typically have  worked with many different types  of students. They have experience and knowledge of what’s typical at this developmental age and what is not. They know who your child is at school and in class in a way we, as parents can’t know. Honor their thoughts and feelings. Honor their expertise. When you begin to feel defensive, ask yourself why.

When feeling defensive, going back to what matters is important and that is the needs of the  child.  Not our adult agendas and stories. Putting those aside, we can focus on trying to see and understand the child’s story, their learning difficulties in school, and what he/she needs to “level the playing field” at school to have more successes.  There is always a uniqueness about every child that needs to be celebrated and honored.  We all need to  be the village surrounding the child.

 

With Appreciation,

Wendy and Christina

 

School Choice

In North Carolina, there are several choices when considering your child’s education. There are traditional public schools, public charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, and homeschooling. When considering the best fit for your child and family, it is important to understand the difference between these options.  School choice is often talked about this time of year because lotteries are currently open for the 2017-2018 school year for charter and magnet schools.

Most everyone is familiar with traditional public schools. It is where most of us went to school!  Typically, this will be your “homeschool” meaning the public school that is assigned to your neighborhood.  It could be close by or your child’s assigned school may require busing to a different area.   If you wanted to have your child attend a different traditional public school (other than the one to which your child is assigned) sometimes you are able to submit a letter of request or fill out a school choice application.  However, it is difficult to move to a different traditional public unless the decision is made by the staff at your child’s school.  For example, if your child has special needs and the Team Who Is On Your Child’s Team? decides your child requires a specialized program offered at a specific traditional public, then your child may be moved to that school.

Public charter schools are a relatively new option. It is important to understand these schools are PUBLIC schools. They must follow the Common Core and provide regular and special education programs. They receive federal and state money to fund their schools. Charter schools receive an allotment for each child in their school. Just like traditional public schools, charter schools also receive money for children with special needs. Charter schools can be started by anyone. There is an extensive application that must be filled out and approved by NC DPI. Charter schools have a mission that is unique to their school. When considering this option, it is important to know the school’s mission, who started the school and why, and who is head of the school. You should ask yourself if your family is philosophically aligned with the school’s mission. Most teachers and staff at the school wear many hats and are a part of many committees.  If you are considering a public charter school for your child,  you must fill out the school’s registration form and students are admitted based on a lottery system.  North Carolina does like to try to keep families together, therefore, siblings do have priority in a public charter school in the lottery system.  Lotteries for public charter schools are currently open and typically close by late January or early February.  If this is an option for your child, be sure to check the deadline for entering your child into the school’s lottery with each school you are considering.

Magnet schools are similar to charter schools except that they are managed by a typical school district. They also have a lottery system that students must be entered into.  Here is a link to visit CMS (Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools) information about their magnet schools http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/cmsdepartments/ci/MagnetPrograms/Pages/default.aspx  We recommend researching the magnet schools in your district if this is an option for your child.

Private schools do not receive public funds and do not have to follow the special education laws such as IDEA. They do, however, have to follow ADA (American’s with Disabilities Act) guidelines.  There is a registration process and tuition payment that will be unique for each private school.  If your child has an IEP or 504, private schools typically do not follow them and have yearly meetings since they do not take public money.  However, it is common for certain private schools to make accommodations that are needed for your child’s unique needs.  If this is an option for your family, make sure you meet with the director or administration of the school and ask specific questions to see if it is a good fit for your child’s needs. Here is a link which explains how children with disabilities can receive services if they are in a private school. https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/choosing-starting-school/finding-right-school/6-things-to-know-about-private-schools-and-special-education

Homeschools have grown and continue to grow yearly.  If you choose to homeschool your child, you must register as a homeschool with the state of North Carolina.  Here is a link for more information http://ncadmin.nc.gov/citizens/home-school-information.  You need to keep attendance records for your child and have one standardized test completed each year.  There are a lot of homeschooling groups you can join as well as classes to sign your child up for to offer enrichment and different experiences.  If you are in the Charlotte area, we recommend checking out Discovery Place’s homeschool classes https://science.discoveryplace.org/programs-and-classes/homeschool-classes, Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden’s homeschool classes http://www.dsbg.org/homeschool-days/, and Latta Plantation homeschool classes http://www.lattaplantation.org/homeschool-days/.  There are also discounts for ski days http://skifrenchswiss.com/homeschool-days-pd-48.php , classes you can sign up for through churches, and co-ops you can join.  Making connections within the homeschool realm makes organizing and navigating the curriculum and connections easier.

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

I Am….

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How do you help develop your inner coach, that inner voice that is helping you in a positive way?  It’s important to compliment yourself daily.  Tell yourself what you have done well for the day.   Do you help your child recognize what he or she did well in their day too?  Taking a few minutes each day with your child to ask him/her what they did well with will help build that positive inner coach of recognizing their strengths and efforts.  Making a shift in their thinking to see the beauty within themselves.

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

Requesting an Evaluation

Previously, we wrote a couple of posts talking about what to do if your child is struggling in school What Does the School Do if My Child is Struggling? and What Can I Do if My Child is Struggling in School?

We wanted to specifically touch on the option of a parent requesting an evaluation.  According to IDEA,  you do have the right to request an evaluation from your child’s public school. This letter must be in writing. The public school is responsible for providing and paying for any evaluation for any child who may need special education services.  This link provides details http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/tests.evals.crabtree.htm.  Another good reference can be found here http://www.parentcenterhub.org/repository/evaluation-2/

You also have an option of obtaining an outside evaluation and bringing it to your child’s school.  Public schools must consider all private evaluations as part of the fact finding process for your child. Here is a link that details your rights if you choose to have an independent evaluation performed outside of your child’s school http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/test.iee.steedman.htm

We have prepared a simple letter requesting an evaluation to send to your child’s school.  The words in bold need to be changed to add specific details such as your child’s name, areas of concern, date, etc.  Remember, once you have officially requested an evaluation, your child’s school must contact you to set up a meeting to discuss your child’s strengths, areas of need/concern, interventions tried and the results of those interventions.  Here is a link to a past post about what type of meeting you will have Know Your Forms-Referral For Help

Here is the letter that you can download to request an evaluation:

letter-requesting-an-evaulation

Here is a copy of the letter if you would rather type it in a different format:

 

                                                                                                                                    DATE-month,day,year

 

Dear (preferably addressed to EC Teacher and/or principal),

 

I have concerns regarding (insert your child’s name) in (insert specific area such as reading, writing, math, social).   I have spoken with my child’s teacher, (name) and we have tried certain strategies to help him (or her). However, he (or she) continues to have difficulty in this area (or areas-be specific).

I would like to formally request an evaluation for my child to discuss his (or her) strengths and areas of needs in school. I would like to have a meeting within ten days of this letter to begin the process.

I can be reached at (e-mail address) or (phone number).

 

Thank you. I look forward to meeting and discussing how to help (your child’s name).

 

Sincerely,

                                                                             Your Name

 

 

As always, if you have any questions about this process, please send us an e-mail at confidentsolutions7@gmail.com.

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy