Food Allergies – A Parents’ Nightmare !

When your child has a food allergy, you have to take all the precautions you can to protect them. This includes discussing your child’s situation with their school. Clear and open communication with the school can help your child stay safe during the school day.

First, become as informed as you can about your child’s allergies, including the foods that cause it, the signs of an allergic reaction, how epinephrine can help, how to use an epi pen, and how your child might describe a reaction. Also find out how your school approaches food allergy management. They probably have a plan in place. Connect with a local food allergy support group where you can talk with other parents in the area.

Build a team at the school to share information about your child and to educate them about your child’s allergies. Make yourself available to answer questions and to address concerns. This might include cafeteria staff, maintenance staff, administration, nurses, teachers, coaches, parents, classmates, and transportation staff.

File a food allergy and anaphylaxis emergency care plan with your school. It provides an outline of what to do in case your child has an allergic reaction. It also includes phone numbers for emergency contacts. Your child’s doctor signs it. In case of an emergency, your child’s school will know to go right away to their file, look at that paper and can administer the correct medical care while they wait for emergency assistance.

You can also help reduce allergens in the classroom by talking with your child’s teacher about rules like not sharing or trading food, only allowing food items with labels to be come into the classroom (no home-baked cookies), providing snacks for the whole class so your child can eat what everyone else does, etc.

Finally, visit FoodAllergy.org for a helpful list of resources to help you discuss your child’s allergy with their school.

 

Super Hero Staff Educators

New Math ? Working Parent – No Clue !

When your child comes home with math homework you don’t know how to do, you may feel like you should be the one back in school. You can still help your child with their homework even if you don’t think you can do the work. Here are some tips to get you started.

1.) Search the web for help. There are tons of free tutorials online to help kids – and parents – do math homework. Many of them are videos that can help you if you’re a more visual and/or auditory learner. Find a similar problem, and then try to solve the problems your child is doing the same way.

2.) Contact your child’s teacher if you are having trouble understanding the instructions. You may be able to schedule a time to come in and talk about the math lesson so that you can understand it better. You can also talk on the phone or email. Don’t be ashamed to ask the teacher for help. Teachers would much rather you take an interest in helping your child than to see your child not do well because they don’t understand it.

3.) Reach out to the teacher to see if they offer tutoring before or after school. Many teachers are happy to offer some extra help.

4.) Find a tutor for your child that can help them do their math homework. This might be an older student or perhaps a certified teacher with some extra time on their hands who is not currently teaching. Tutoring centers also offer structured homework help.

5.) Approach your child’s teacher to ask for more resources to understand the homework. You might ask to borrow another helpful textbook, for example.

6.) Read through any notes that your child took in class or that the teacher provided for extra clues on how to do the work.

7.) Contact the local library and the school to see if they offer free homework help. Many times, volunteer tutors will help your child for free in these locations.

8.) Send a note to the teacher to explain what, in particular, you and your child do not understand about a particular problem. The teacher can then respond with some guidance to help your child solve the problems, which can help you understand how to do it, too.

 

Super Hero Staff Educator

My Son Grieves the Loss of His Mom – What About School?

When your child experiences a loss, the grieving process can take a toll on their school work and their relationships at school. If this occurs, it is important to communicate directly with the school about the situation so that personnel and teachers are better able to assist your child as they work through the difficult process of grieving.

While teachers are not grief counselors and may not understand much about how it proceeds, it is vital that you schedule a time to talk with your children’s teachers and the school principal to discuss what is going on. As soon as possible after the loss occurs, set an appointment with relevant faculty and administration members to explain the situation.

Let them know about the loss, about the relationship of the person/animal/object/situation lost with your child, and then explain the impact that the loss is having on your child. Talk about changes you expect to see in their behavior, changes that you have already seen, and discuss how you and teachers/administration will communicate about any changes that will occur at home and at school.

Invite the school counselor or psychologist to attend the meeting, if one is available at your school. This person will be more aware of the grief process than other staff members at the school and can help outline the stages to expect your child to go through. The counselor might also recommend regular sessions for your child to meet with them so that they can work through it with professional guidance. If they don’t suggest it, you can request it.

Stay in communication with the school about the situation, and provide regular updates. Ask teachers about ways to encourage your child to still do their work at home or if they can modify your student’s workload for a time while they adjust to life after the loss. Encourage your school to visit GrievingStudents.org for more information about to help students who are grieving.

Work with a grief professional who can help you help your child through the loss. This can make the process easier for you and your child to handle. You can get tools to help your child do well in school and suggestions to help teachers help your child.

Super Hero Staff Educator

 

My Child is Muslim – The Teacher Is Biased

Discrimination from a teacher of any type makes it difficult for your child to succeed academically. If you are a member of a religious group, such as Islam, that your child’s teacher doesn’t seem to care for, you have some options to make sure your child is treated fairly at school.

1.) Document any discriminatory statements or actions that you witness or hear about from your child. Try to find out the particulars of the situation from others who saw or heard the incident occur if you are hearing the about it only from your child to ensure you have all the objective information you need. Take the documentation to your child’s school’s administration to see what they can do to help you.

2.) Request that your child be moved to a different classroom after you have documented the incidents. This might be a last resort if a meeting with the teacher and administration does not clear up any potential misunderstandings about a supposedly discriminatory statement or action.

3.) Talk to the teacher directly. Many times, having a frank discussion can be the key to breaking down barriers. Misconceptions and stereotypes are best dealt with in a calm, but clear manner.

4.) Talk to the school about having some sort of presentation, cultural/religious fair, or guest speaker that can help explain to students about your religion. Invite other religious groups to participate, and encourage staff, faculty, and students to get involved. Expand the program to include discussion about discrimination in general, why it is not okay, and what to do if students witness it.

5.) Encourage your child to talk with you about your religion, its beliefs, any discrimination or bullying they witness because of it (or because of any other reason, such as disability or skin color). This promotes open communication between you to help solve any potential problems with a biased teacher.

6.) Act on reports of religious discrimination immediately when you hear about them. Get other parents on board with you to demonstrate strength in numbers and a united front to combat religious intolerance in schools.

Your child deserves to attend school in a safe, peaceful environment, regardless of their religious beliefs, and, with decisive action to stop religious discrimination from teachers before it gets out of hand, you can protect your child and others like them

Super Hero Staff Educator

Bullying A National Crisis?

Bullying is no laughing matter no matter when it happens. When it is your child that is bullied, that makes the situation more personal, and you’re more likely to want to fight for your child’s rights to go to school without anybody picking on them. Here are some ideas you can take into the next school year to improve the bullying situation.

1.) Talk about the problem with your child’s new teacher at the beginning of the year. This can help the teacher keep on the look-out for any potentially troubling behaviors that may indicate that your child is being bullied. The teacher can then step in to prevent any potential problems.

2.) Organize a group of concerned parents to approach the school’s administration about ways you can participate in the school’s anti-bullying efforts. You may be able to volunteer in a classroom during a lesson about bullying or otherwise participate in helping make the campus safe and accepting of all students.

3.) Encourage your child to speak to an adult they trust at school if they are bullied or see others who are being picked on.

4.) Teach your child how to effectively stand up to bullies, such as being humorous, and saying “stop” in a direct and confident way. Your child can also walk away if they are being bullies.

5.) Teach your child to stay near groups of adults or other children to prevent being cornered by a bully where no one can see what is going on.

6.) Talk with your kids every day to keep the lines of communication open. Ask about one good thing and one bad thing that happened during the day. Find out who they sit with at lunch and what they talk about. Ask about what it’s like to ride the bus, and ask them what they feel they are good at doing at school.

7.) Discuss what bullying means to your child. Explain what a bully acts like, and talk about why they may act that way. Help your child identify an adult they can talk to at school about bullying.

8.) Create a plan of action for if your child sees someone being bullied. They can be kind to those who are bullied, or find an adult to help out if another child is being bullied, for example.

You can find more helpful ideas about how to talk with your child about bullying and about how to prevent it at StopBullying.gov.

 

Super Hero Staff Educator 

ADHD/ADD – Is Medicine the Only Solution?

ADHD students may talk when it’s not their turn and move around the classroom. Following instructions is not their forte, and they may have trouble turning in their homework. Their fine motor skills may be lacking, as well, which makes handwriting hard to read. If no one directly supervises long-term projects, they are likely to have difficulty completing them. If this sounds like a student in your class, here are some solutions to help you more successfully teach them from HelpGuide.org.

First, keeping a positive attitude about finding and implementing strategies that work is necessary. Give the student honest praise immediately when they accomplish good work and behave well. A reward or point/token system may also be effective.

Additionally, develop some warning signals with your ADHD student. For example, you might have a certain hand signal or sticky note on the student’s desk to indicate behavior is heading south. Talk to the student in private about their behavior, not in front of the class. Focus on correcting behavior that is unintentional and that is distracting to the other students or the lesson.

You can also use visuals, like charts, color coding, and pictures to help when you deliver lessons. Try to do more difficult work earlier in the day, and make outlines for note-taking to organize lesson information.

For student work, make worksheets and tests that have fewer questions, and give regular short quizzes instead of long tests. Cut down on timed tests as well. When you give assessments, let ADHD students test the way that works best for them, which may be orally or by filling in the blanks. Break up long projects into pieces with a defined goal for each part. Give partial credit for late work instead of just handing out zeros.

Help a student develop their organization skills by having a master binder with separate sections for each subject. Color-code each subject. Give students a notebook with a section for homework to do, completed homework, and parent paperwork. Ensure students have a way to write down assignments.

When you start a lesson, use a clue the student can hear, like a timer. Make eye contact with students with ADHD. Put the activities of the lesson on the board, and tell students what they will learn and what materials they’ll need. Make instructions short and organized with visuals.

Add in some various activities, particularly fast games or intense activities. Give the ADHD student breaks and let them squeeze a rubber ball or tap something that isn’t noisy to have a physical release.

Summarize key points at the end of the lesson, and have a few students repeat what the assignment is if you give one, and then put it on the board. Tell students exactly what they need to take home to do their homework.

 

Super Hero Teacher On Staff

Dyslexia – Solutions?

There isn’t a precise definition of what dyslexia actually is, according to Dianne Craft, an experienced special educator, on her website diannecraft.org. Some say it is a “language processing problem that involves the distinguishing of sounds of letters—this is why the struggling reader cannot remember phonics sounds to decode a word. Others believe that it is a visual/perceptual problem since these children reverse words laterally (b/d) and vertically (m/w) as well as scrambling letters (“the” = “het”) when they read and write.” She also thinks it’s a visual/motor (eye/hand) problem.

Since the brain is divided into the left and right hemispheres, a person with dyslexia has to deal with processes that the right side is supposed to handle, like writing, and letter identification, still being in the left side of the brain. The degree of the problem that a person has with these types of processing determines whether there is an actual diagnosis of dyslexia.

There are several forms of therapy and different types of tools available to help dyslexic individuals. If you are a dyslexic educator, a teacher with a dyslexic student in class, or a parent with a dyslexic child, you can utilize technology to help dyslexic individuals. For example, Yale University’s Center for Dyslexia and Creativity has a list of technology tools, like the LiveScribe Smartpen that uses a camera to take pictures of your notes and also records whatever the teacher is saying.

Here are some other tips for teachers of dyslexic students from Dyslexia Victoria’s website:

1.) Put two lines and a dotted line under each question so dyslexic students can practice learning how to use space on the page.

2.) When teaching someone with dyslexia how to spell a word, use a drawn or printed image of the whole word, not separate parts of it or its phonetic sounds.

3.) Teach a lesson in one session with a big-picture view of it and why it’s important. Follow with more detailed lessons.

4.) Use a “dyslexia-friendly” spelling and reading program to develop a vocabulary on level with material being read in class to avoid decoding words all the time.

5.) Teach students to write by teaching them about the structure of what they’re writing. Use mind maps or similar techniques to help them see the details.

6.) Give dyslexic students a step-by-step guide to how they are to complete an assignment if it requires completion of multiple parts.

7.) Use drawings of the items in a math word problem to help them solve the more abstract ones.

Super Hero Teacher On Staff

A Teacher’s Job Is Easy?

Teachers today have it pretty easy. Their students are typically all in the same grade level, and they get to teach with more support and tools than ever before. They even get to teach in the air conditioning and in buildings with decent heating (in most schools), which is something teachers a few decades ago could only dream about. The technical and logistical aspects of a teacher’s day seem better than they were years ago, but there are still some significant challenges that you might not see from the outside looking in.

First, teachers’ can’t go to the restroom whenever they want. You can’t just leave your classroom of twenty or more kids unattended when you need to make use of the facilities. You have to get on the walkie-talkie, or intercom, cell phone, or whatever device you have to use to call administration or a nice teacher’s aide to watch your class for you for a few minutes. Then you have to wait for someone to actually be available and come to your classroom. . .

Additionally, classrooms can be crowded, and then they can be overcrowded. You don’t always have the right number of textbooks, desks, or the proper number of personal square feet for each one. Having that many students just highlights the fact that they are on levels for each subject. There are also different learning styles, preferences, reading levels, English language learner support,  intervention support schedules and tools, individualized education plan meetings and paperwork. . .

Teaching isn’t all about reading, writing, and arithmetic. It’s about juggling before- and after-school meetings, planning times, time to scarf down lunch, grading that follows you home, coaching after-school clubs, and dealing with a whole host of problems that parents and the wider community may not see.

So the next time you see a teacher you know, you might ask how you could help. Could you come in and read with a struggling reader one day, cut out lamination at home for the teacher, make some phone calls to other parents to organize a field trip? Some help would probably be really appreciated and help the whole class of students succeed.

My Child Is Being Tested? Labeled?

When your child is failing in school, it is a stressful time for both student and parent. If you get a message from the school that they want to test your child, it just adds to the fear that there is something wrong. Take a deep breath, though, because the school just wants to help your child learn, and testing is a good way to identify the best way to do that. According to Pamela Wright and Pete Wright, Esq. of WrightsLaw.com, “If school employees know or have reason to suspect that a child has a disability, these school employees have an affirmative duty to act on the child’s behalf” (emphasis in the original).

Laws

Let’s start with two laws you need to be familiar with. They govern how the school handles children with learning differences and their testing. The first is Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of1973 (also called “504”). This law makes public schools provide a “free appropriate public education” to every student with a disability within the school district’s boundaries. That is true, no matter the type or severity of the disability.

The other law is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which necessitates that schools have a process in place for assessing disability. This can be early intervention services for children under the age of 2 or special education services for those between the ages of 3 and 21. According to a New York Times blog by Jessica Lahey, “The definitions of what is or is not a disability, and whether those disabilities qualify vary wildly. ‘Qualified’ simply means that your child has been determined to have a disability that is covered under the law.”

Next Steps

Communicate with the school to find out what, specifically, they are concerned about. This can help you figure out what kind of testing will be done. They may be more intelligence or academic ability-related or behaviorally-related. There is no way to tell initially whether the testing will determine if your child will have a permanent label or whether there are some regular classroom-based interventions that will probably suffice to help your child succeed outside of more in-depth special education services.

If testing has identified that your child has a disability, the school will create an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The IEP process is one in which you, as the parent, should participate, so that you have a clear understanding of what the interventions are that your child will receive and know what goals your child is trying to reach based on the IEP. The end goal is to help your child learn in the way that is most meaningful to them. Advocating for your child and participating in discussions along the way with the school is vital to your child’s success.

Parent Rights

You may choose to have your child evaluated privately by a professional you choose, which is called an Independent Educational Evaluation. You can also refuse testing. Even if your child is in private school, the state still has some responsibilities toward your child. They are different in each state, however, so understand your state’s laws by contacting your state’s Parent Center. When you know your rights as a parent, you’ll be better prepared to advocate and assist your child in getting the right support to help them succeed. You can also visit the Center for Parent Information and Resources page for more information about how you can help your child through the special education identification process.

 

When your child is failing in school, it is a stressful time for both student and parent. If you get a message from the school that they want to test your child, it just adds to the fear that there is something wrong. Take a deep breath, though, because the school just wants to help your child learn, and testing is a good way to identify the best way to do that. According to Pamela Wright and Pete Wright, Esq. of WrightsLaw.com, “If school employees know or have reason to suspect that a child has a disability, these school employees have an affirmative duty to act on the child’s behalf” (emphasis in the original).

Laws

Let’s start with two laws you need to be familiar with. They govern how the school handles children with learning differences and their testing. The first is Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of1973 (also called “504”). This law makes public schools provide a “free appropriate public education” to every student with a disability within the school district’s boundaries. That is true, no matter the type or severity of the disability.

The other law is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which necessitates that schools have a process in place for assessing disability. This can be early intervention services for children under the age of 2 or special education services for those between the ages of 3 and 21. According to a New York Times blog by Jessica Lahey, “The definitions of what is or is not a disability, and whether those disabilities qualify vary wildly. ‘Qualified’ simply means that your child has been determined to have a disability that is covered under the law.”

Next Steps

Communicate with the school to find out what, specifically, they are concerned about. This can help you figure out what kind of testing will be done. They may be more intelligence or academic ability-related or behaviorally-related. There is no way to tell initially whether the testing will determine if your child will have a permanent label or whether there are some regular classroom-based interventions that will probably suffice to help your child succeed outside of more in-depth special education services.

If testing has identified that your child has a disability, the school will create an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The IEP process is one in which you, as the parent, should participate, so that you have a clear understanding of what the interventions are that your child will receive and know what goals your child is trying to reach based on the IEP. The end goal is to help your child learn in the way that is most meaningful to them. Advocating for your child and participating in discussions along the way with the school is vital to your child’s success.

Parent Rights

You may choose to have your child evaluated privately by a professional you choose, which is called an Independent Educational Evaluation. You can also refuse testing. Even if your child is in private school, the state still has some responsibilities toward your child. They are different in each state, however, so understand your state’s laws by contacting your state’s Parent Center. When you know your rights as a parent, you’ll be better prepared to advocate and assist your child in getting the right support to help them succeed. You can also visit the Center for Parent Information and Resources page for more information about how you can help your child through the special education identification process.

M.L. Page, M.Ed.

IEP- Function and Purpose

 

When your child is identified as having a disability, the school will bring together several people, including you, to help write an IEP. An IEP is a tool to help your child succeed in school and to ensure that appropriate interventions and academic and social goals are set.

Definition

An IEP is an Individualized Education Program. It is a document that lays out the educational program that is tailored to your child. The purposes of an IEP are to identify academic and social goals and to state which supports and services the school will provide your child to help them succeed, according to the Parent Center Hub website.

Law

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, necessitates that schools have a process in place for assessing disability, which can be early intervention services for children under the age of 2 or special education services for those between the ages of 3 and 21.

Components of an IEP

This law also states that the IEP has to have statements about “present levels of academic achievement and functional performance,” “annual goals,” “special education and related services to be provided,” and “participation with children without disabilities,” according to the Parent Center Hub website.

The present levels of academic achievement and functional performance says how your child is doing now in school and how the disability affects that. The goals describe what the school team thinks your child can accomplish in a year as far as needs that relate to the disability, and they map out how your child can take part in the general education curriculum. The services to be provided discuss tools and arrangements, like a communication device or different seating arrangements, as well as special education services from personnel at the school, that can help your child succeed. The IEP also spells out how much of the day your child will spend educated away from the general population.

IEPs also include a variety of other components, such as dates and location of services, participation in assessments, transition services, and how progress will be measured. Read the Parent Center Hub site for more information about all IEP components.

Who Creates an IEP?

IEPs are created by one regular education teacher, a special education provider or teacher, a representative of the school system, someone who can interpret evaluation results, others the school or you invite, parents, and your child, when appropriate.

If at all possible, attend IEP meetings at your child’s school so that you understand the plan to help your child succeed and to advocate for them, if necessary. The meetings can be done without parents participating, so try to attend, if you can. You can still get records of the meeting if you don’t attend.

In the end, an IEP is designed to help your child succeed. They are updated annually, and they reflect the desire of the school to see your child do well in all aspects of life. Don’t be afraid of them. Embrace them as a tool to support your child.

 

M.L.Page, M.Ed.