Organizing Your Paperwork

Summertime brings a perfect opportunity to get your child’s paperwork organized.  We have two forms that we use when organizing files.  You can download them here:

unit-1-cs  and following-units-2-cs

We recommend having an organizational system that works well with your style.  One typical system is to purchase a large 3-ring binder and insert the papers in order.  Make sure you have a tab for school communication and print your e-mails and document your phone conversations with your child’s school.  Christina has a 31 tote bag and keeps file folders organized by current IEPs, evaluations, and all pertinent documentation.  It’s easy to carry to a meeting and can quickly find the folder needed on a moment’s notice.

We have found a terrific resource in organizing your child’s paperwork from the Understood website.  You can find it here https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/special-services/ieps/how-to-organize-your-childs-iep-binder?utm_source=pinterest&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=understoodorg

You can also find resources through our Pinterest page here https://www.pinterest.com/confidentsoluti/boards/

Remember, all special education paperwork will be accompanied with its own DEC5. If you would like to refresh your knowledge each type of form, you can look through our archives on past posts or send us an e-mail with your question! We love connecting with you and helping in any way we are able!

Happy Summer!

With Gratitude,

Christina and Wendy

 

 

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The Power of Empowerment

We’ve previously talked about what type of advocate we are.  Assume Positive Intent.  We  have sat on all sides of the “EC table”. Please Don’t Say “It Will Be Okay” We both are parents of children with special needs, we both have worked in the school system as EC coordinators, special education teachers, regular education teachers, speech/language therapist, and Dean of Students.  We know the EC paperwork, the laws, school, state, and federal policies.  We have sat as advocates for families, teaching them about the paperwork, EC processes, and where to find information.  So why tell you all of this?

We want you to know that all of this has been creating what type of advocate we are. We believe in collaboration with other professionals.  We have yet to find one person who knows everything regarding EC.  We have experienced how important it is to ask questions, be involved, and listen carefully to how and what people say.  We believe in empowering families to be advocates for their children. We want to teach and encourage parents first.  We will coach you, guide you, teach you what we know so you are knowledgable and ready to communicate with your child’s school.  We want to help bridge any gaps between a school and a family.  We believe in the focus being on the child.  This is what we always come back to.  What does the child need? How can we help? How can the parents help? How can the school help?  After empowering the family, if you need additional support from us, we’re there.  We can sit as advocates for your child at meetings and help bridge those gaps where needed.  We also try to have open communication and collaboration first.

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

Empower-verb. To enable or permit.

Mindful-adjective. Attentive and aware.

We support the interest of the child by empowering families first.  We are attentive and aware of the way we communicate with schools, families, and other professionals.

empowerment

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

Registration for Social Skills Classes April 23rd-May 28st

registration-for-social-skills-classes-april-23rd-may-28st-updated

Registration is now open for our last set of social skills classes before the Summer! 

For some students, obtaining and utilizing good social skills do not come naturally. They move through their environment having a difficult time communicating and understanding more than just direct language-based interactions. For example, good social skills include sharing space with others and learning to regulate one’s own behavior to other people’s thoughts or expectations as well as using your whole body to understand what people are “saying” around you. For some students, these skills need to be taught.

We are offering three different sessions, each with a specific focus. We believe that empowering the parent/guardian is equally important in teaching social skills to a child. Please plan on staying for the parent session of your child’s class to learn what your child is learning and how to help your child at home. For session one and session two, teacher letters will be e-mailed weekly to each parent. This gives you the opportunity to share what your child is learning with his/her teacher and helps connect what your child is learning to his/her school environment.

All classes are held at 9700 Research Drive, Suite 132, Charlotte, NC 28262. The total cost for a six-week session is $225.00. To register, fill out the registration form and e-mail it to us at confidentsolutions7@gmail.com. Each group will have no more than 5 students so we can practice “thinking” about thinking as well as individualize for each child.

If you are new, we recommend beginning with the self-awareness, self-monitoring, and self-control class first. If you have questions about any classes, please feel free to e-mail us at confidentsolutions7@gmail.com.  You may be interested in reading about who could benefit from a social skills class here Who Benefits From Social Skills Classes? and Social Learning

Session 1: Social Learning through Self-Awareness, Self-Monitoring, and Self-Control

Following the Think Social! model, children and parents will learn the differences between self-awareness, self-monitoring, and self-control. Students will learn about “hidden” social expectations in different environments, how behaviors are connected to emotions, strengthen imitation skills, how to gain self-awareness with individual behaviors, move into self-monitoring tools for shifting negative behaviors into positive ones, how to identify if a problem is a big one or little one, and learn how to use your whole body to listen.  Each child will choose a personal behavior goal and learn tools to help create a shift in awareness and behaviors.

This group meets from 3:00-4:00

Session 2: Theory of Mind and Zones of Regulation

Theory of Mind is the way we understand and interpret our social world with knowing that other people have different thoughts, views, perspectives, and feelings.  Following the Theory of Mind philosophy and merging the Think Social! Zones of Regulation, students will learn how to be more mindful of other people in their social circles. They will begin to make a connection between their actions and how others are feeling. Zones of Regulation teaches children how to become aware of their emotional state and gives them tools to get back into the “green” zone.

This group meets from 4:00-5:00.

Session 3: Practicing of Social Skills

This session is designed for open practice of the social skills that have previously been taught.  We will create opportunities for the students to practice social thinking and executive functioning skills in a play environment.  This gives us the opportunity to help each child individually navigate a challenging social scenario using their tools and knowledge from previous groups.  Due to the level of individualization, instead of a weekly teacher letter, we will give our contact information to your child’s teacher and can facilitate open communication on skills their student continues to strengthen as well as get feedback on what skills need continued practice in the school environment.

This group meets from 5:00-6:00

 

Haley for website

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

Gratitude

Happy Friday everyone! We wanted to talk, specifically, to all of you moms, dads, grandparents, and caregivers this morning.  We know first hand how being a parent of a child with special needs goes hand in hand with receiving more negative comments, judgmental statements or feedback.  Sometimes those comments come from your child’s school.  Sometimes it comes from a neighbor.  Maybe it’s a look you get from a stranger while just trying to accomplish your grocery shopping.  At times, it’s delivered from a friend.  We do believe those negative comments are a reflection of where that person is in their lives; their own personal level of awareness.  Even when understanding this,  your heart doesn’t sting any less when being on the receiving end.

It’s so important to find the positive moments in each day and note them.  Write those moments of positivity down in a journal, state them out loud, or say them quietly to yourself. Even if you start with just one a day. There is always something positive to be found.  At first, you may have to look deeper.  For example, yesterday I said a moment of “thanks” for not having to drive on I-85 for the day.  This morning I said “thanks” for the amazing, wonderful and rare morning we all had before school.  What we can promise you is, once you start noticing a positive moment in your day, you begin to shift.  You begin to notice more of them and, over time, the negative comments do not sting or stick to you like they once did.

Give it a try.  Set a goal. For 30 days notice at least one positive thing in your day.

What are you thankful for today?

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

 

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One More Week for Registrations

Good Morning! Registration for our next sessions of social skills classes are open for one more week.  Classes begin this coming Sunday!  For details, please click here Registration for Social Skills Classes Feb.26-April 2

Questions about our classes?  Send us an e-mail to confidentsolutions7@gmail.com.  We love connecting with you!

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With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

February’s IEP Class

Our next free parent/guardian class on understanding the components of an IEP will be held on Wednesday, February 15th.   Due to the needs of families, we have changed the time from 11:00-1:00.  This will be a “drop” in time.  Please join us during this time at your convenience and bring your questions.  We are finding it to be most helpful for families to have the opportunity to ask individual questions about an IEP process or specific parts of an IEP.  We still love to hear that you’re able to drop in! Please send us an e-mail to confidentsolutions7@gmail.com. Classes are held at 9700 Research Dr., Suite 132, Charlotte, NC 28262.  We look forward to seeing you!

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

iep-picture

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

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