Request Help for Your Child
I work with a large spectrum of children. I work with a lot of parents, too. Despite the differences in each child's educational need, one overlapping factor seems to be present: the student's parents want to their son or daughter to succeed in school.
I've seen parents come to the school for assistance in planning their child's educational program. As an educator, I see many parents become frustrated when their child is falling behind. As an educator, I also have an opportunity to help your child. By collaboration with home and school, we will be able to make changes in your son or daughter's educational program.
When most parents start to feel concern for their child's education, the first question they ask is "whom do I turn to for help?" In most cases, the answer is the classroom teacher. Many educational concerns can be addressed in the classroom, without a need for specialized education planning. A parent's first step should be to contact their child's classroom teacher and discuss ways to assist their child both at home and in the classroom.
If the classroom teacher is not able to help remediate the problem, the next step is contact the school and request assistance from the school's student support team. While each school has a student support team, they may have different names which mean different things. You may always request a general "student support" team meeting, but you may hear terms like "Student Improvement Team", "Student Achievement Team", "Student Support Team", "Multi-Disciplinary Team", or "Academic Intervention Team". While the names of these teams varies, the end goal is the same; each team is dedicated to finding solutions and interventions that will help your child succeed in school. Of course, as a parent, you will become a critical member of this planning team, so be prepared to attend these meetings and provide insight as to how your child is performing.
Finally, if the student support team is not able to find solutions for your child, it may be time to request a formal special education eligibility determination. You will need to make a request for an eligibility determination (you don't have to use those words) for your child's placement into a specialized education program. Another team of educators will then be formed to determine if your child's unique educational needs warrant specialized education programming. This team is usually referred to as the "IEP team." (See this page for more information about IEPs.)
To summarize the above, the process of requesting help should follow this path...
Speak to your child's classroom teacher. He or she will be most familiar with your child's educational needs, and best able to address the need.
Request assistance from the schools "student support" team. This is usually done by calling the school's primary phone number, contacting the school counselor, or contacting your child's classroom teacher.
Request an eligibility determination to determine if your child can qualify for special education services.
For a more detailed review of the process of "identification" (the process of finding a student who is eligible for special education services), please see this page.
If you're new to the process of special education, you may be unaware of what to expect from your child's school. Unfortunately, some schools try to avoid proving special education services to parents who are uninformed or are easily manipulated. If you're ever told any of these responses from your child's school, you should request to speak to someone in a higher authority.