Summer is almost over. In just about four weeks schools will reopen and a new semester will begin. The school plays a critical role in the special child’s holistic growth and development. Keep in mind that it is not a place where parents could leave off their responsibilities but rather, a place where they can access help and services for the benefit of their child. The school is where the special individual learns not only academic skills but most importantly, develops self-confidence and becomes more responsible and independent as he interacts with his peers and teachers. In choosing where to enroll your child, you may use your parental instincts and you may employ these considerations:
1. Accessibility and Security
l Consider the time, distance and traffic in getting to the Sped center/school. The child might get tired and weary in traveling even before the class starts and this may cause unnecessary tantrums.
l It is ideal if the school is located in a safe and secure community. Check the school’s security measures (guards on duty all the time posted at all entrances & exits, ID card of visitors etc..)
l The vision-mission reflects the image and idealism of the school. It tells of the virtues and values they uphold and the type of culture they try to live by and if these factors coincide with your beliefs then add +1 to your scoring point.
3. School Program and Curriculum
l Review the school’s program, activities and curriculum. Some center’s/school’s curriculum is tailored particularly to a specific disability. Their activities and programs are specially designed to cater the needs of a particular impairment.
l The school should have a record of each student’s Individualized Education Program; reviewed and modified annually (or anytime as necessary) with an extensive transition planning.
4. Qualification and Credibility of the Administrator and Faculty
l It is of utmost importance to entrust your child to a multidisciplinary team of educators and professionals with vast experiences, after all they act as second parents to your child.
5. Teacher-Student Ratio
l The lesser the number of students a teacher is handling, the more focused the teacher will be to his/her students’ needs and the more effective the teacher can manage his/her classroom.
6. Basic Services
l Physical/occupational therapy, speech & language therapy, availability of assistive technology devices and bus service are necessary services that a special school should offer.
7. Feedbacks from Other Parents
l Most often, parents who have similar concerns and experiences can be good sources of information. Ask around and compare notes.
8. Feedback from Your Own Child
l Acknowledge your own child’s experiences from his school. Ask your child or observe him if he is happy in his school and with his classmates. A happy environment creates a happy and productive child.
Be an informed parent to make informed and wise decisions. Exercise your right to choose which school is best for your little angel.