Child Find

Child Find is a legal requirement that schools “find” children (ages birth through 21) with disabilities who may need special education services.   If the school knows or suspects a child has a disability then, according to the law, it must agree to evaluations.  Here are some excellent resources detailing Child Find:

https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/your-childs-rights/basics-about-childs-rights/child-find-what-it-is-and-how-it-works

http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/child.find.index.htm

http://ec.ncpublicschools.gov/policies/project-child-find

 

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

childfind-poster

Social Learning

Recently, we read an article where a physician was quoted as saying kids do “what they can.”  This is very true whether we’re talking about children utilizing good social skills, reading on their grade level, or learning math facts.  It’s not a child’s “fault” that they are not understanding or implementing good social skills naturally.  However, as adults, we tend to have those expectations when it comes to social skills and then try to manage those “behaviors.”

If a child is struggling  learning to read, we teach that child unique ways to learn maybe through phonics, or blending patterns. If a child is struggling with concepts in math, we offer ways of support such as tutoring and breaking down the concepts until they understand the steps. Social skills really are the same.  In school a student will typically have to pull a card, lose a buck or sit at the quiet table. Teachers and administrators report that a child is struggling understanding and utilizing good social skills but the actual skills are not being taught or supported.

Just like special strategies can be implemented to teach a child to read, there are curriculums and specialists who can teach your child social skills. Both types of teaching express the importance of having a strong support network for your child as well as practicing the skills that are being taught.  When we are teaching a child phonics, we would then expect and set up situations where they are practicing the phonic skill. Social skills are the same in that, as children are learning how to “think” about thinking, having a support network of parents/guardians and teachers to help them practice the skills is necessary.

Our social skills classes are called Mindful Thinking for Social Expectations.  Our classes run six-week sessions with each session having a unique focus.  If this is your first time joining a social skills group or if your child has specific “behaviors” that you are unsure how to teach, we recommend beginning with our self-awareness, self-monitoring, and self-control classes.  We currently are teaching a session on “play” which includes how to enter and engage in play, how to read nonverbal language, and beginning to understand other people have thoughts and perspectives.  We keep our class sizes small so the students have the ability to interact and practice the social skills they are learning. This also enables us to offer more individualized instruction.

We also believe empowering parents is important. In conjunction to the student class, we have a parent group that meets at the same time.  The parents are learning information on the importance of reinforcing and practicing the skills their child is learning.

We also offer a teacher letter each week so we can connect with your child’s teacher. We feel this is an important piece so he/she can help reinforce the skills your child is learning.

This is a slow and deep process.  The focus of our classes are not about “managing” behaviors but rather teaching skills that begins to create a shift for students and parents.  Once these skills are learned, the students will be empowered to problem solve social situations that were once difficult for them.

We welcome any questions you have! If you would like to talk with us more about our classes, please reach out to us at confidentsolutions7@gmail.com.

With Appreciation,

Christina and Wendy

Nature's Heart 1 wm quote

 

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