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

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.

An Advantage To Preschool?

If you have been fortunate enough to be a parent who has not had to put their child in any sort of formal child care, you may be very reluctant to have your child attend preschool. Preschool can be a frightening idea to many parents, but it is very beneficial for your child as well.

1.) Preschool allows your child to engage with other children on a regular basis. It is the perfect place to learn vital social skills like taking turns and engaging in conversations. Your child will learn how to successfully interact with other children.

2.) Preschool helps your child learn important motor skills. For example, your child will learn how to use scissors, and will develop fine motor skills using the toys and learning materials available in the preschool.

3.) Preschool helps your child learn independence and trust. This does not mean that your parent-child bond is broken. It means that your child’s anxiety about being away from you slowly begins to decrease, and he is able to engage in tasks and play on his own more confidently. He also learns how to trust another adult as his caregiver.

4.) Preschool sets the stage for academic learning in elementary school. This does not mean that the preschool you choose to have your child go to should be hard-core academically focused, but it does mean that being exposed to the alphabet, learning to write her name, and developing basic pre-math skills will help your child succeed when she enters Kindergarten.

5.) Preschool teaches children about routine, structure, and schedules. Even if your lifestyle is more laid back, it is important that your child know how to function in the wider world where the clock and authority figures play an important role in daily life.

6.) Preschool shows your child more about the wider world and her place in it. She begins to develop a sense of understanding about home, school, the neighborhood, the city, the state, the country, and how she fits in with each. She is also exposed to new ideas about the world around her, such as new animals and plants she’s never heard of or seen.

Preschool is a great experience for children. Even a few hours a week can give your child the leg up and the confidence he needs to move self-assured into the next phase of his life.

 

M.L. Page , M.ED.