What is it?
School services can start as early as your child’s 3rd birthday if they are eligible for Special Education Preschool in your local school district. Other early childhood options are Head Start, Early Head Start, private preschools and early childcare centers. You may choose to wait to enroll your child in school services at 5 years of age (i.e., Kindergarten), however research shows that children who attend preschool programs are more prepared for school and there are clear positive effects on children's early literacy (reading and writing) and math skills. Once your child starts school there will be several different service options for your child from kindergarten through high school graduation.
- General Education - program of education that typically developing children receive. General Education instruction is based on state standards and evaluated by the annual state educational standards test.
- Special Education (also called Exceptional Education, Student Support, Specialized Instruction) - specially designed instruction, called an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability. You child may have teachers with specialized training; your child may receive instruction in the general education classroom or a special classroom or a special school.
- IDEA - The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the federal law that regulates how public schools must serve children with disabilities from birth until age 22. IDEA requires that schools provide a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE).
- 504 Plan - plans that schools and families create to give kids with disabilities the services and support they need to learn alongside their peers. 504 plans help students with disabilities by giving them necessary: services, materials or technology, and making changes to their learning environment. These things are referred to as reasonable accommodations.
- ADA - Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act/Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires state and local governments to ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to any programs, services, or activities receiving federal funding.
- Gifted and Talented – a program for students who demonstrate a high degree of intellectual and/or creative ability, exhibits an exceptionally high degree of motivation, excels in specific academic fields, and who needs special instruction and/or special support services to achieve their maximum potential.
- It is important to know that students can be gifted and talented AND receive Special Education or 504 Plan services!
Why is it important?
You are your child’s greatest advocate. Knowing what supports are available for your child and working with school partners to ensure your child is receiving those supports is one of the best ways to help your child reach his or her full potential. Research shows that parent involvement improves student attitude and behavior, attendance, and overall academic achievement.
What does successful parent involvement look like?
- Communicating regularly with your child’s teachers
- Reading at home with your child
- Helping with homework
- Discussing school events with your child
- Attending school events (IEP meetings, book fairs, fieldtrips)
- Volunteering in your child’s classroom
- Creating a home environment that encourages learning and schoolwork
- Don’t be afraid to get involved! You are the most important partner to your child’s educational success!