My child is struggling in school, how do I get them the help they need?

Getting calls from the school about behavior or getting report cards home with grades that just don’t make sense can cause a lot of stress and questions for parents.

Sometimes we are told our child appear does not care or they just can’t get started. They are disinterested in school or they are labeled as a bad student.

Sometimes a disability can be seen, but often it comes as a surprise to parents and the children themselves. When you feel like it’s not just “the age” your child is and there is something missing, don’t ignore that feeling. Follow the steps below to get started understanding where to go next.

Step One – Talk to your child’s teacher

Teachers generally do want their students to succeed. Ask if you can have a meeting with them to discuss what is going on with your child. If you don’t feel comfortable going alone you can always bring an advocate or friend. Ask questions about your child’s learning, how they are interacting in class, when are the issues arising? Are these concerns occurring during a specific subject? Is it a certain type of project that is causing the issues?

Also ask how the teacher has already tried to mitigate the problem. Many times teachers have tried different approaches to support the student during class. It is helpful to know what has and has not worked. If a teacher has done nothing, it is a good time to explore solutions and changes that may benefit your student.

Step Two – Ask for a FIE

If your you have already been through step one previously, perhaps several times, it is time to ask for a full and individual evaluation (FIE). An FIE evaluates a student in all areas of suspected disability. The school district provides this testing at no cost to the family. The evaluation can look at various academic and functional performances to help determine if further services are need to support a child in their education. To request an FIE simply send an email. An advocate can help you draft the email with he proper language.

Step Three – Review the results of the evaluation and make a game plan

It is required that a meeting be held to explain the results of the evaluation and determine if special education services or accommodations are needed. Parents can request a copy of the evaluation report prior to this meeting so they can review it for themselves and determine what they think would be best for their student. If you are not familiar with what the document reports an advocate can review it with you and help you make your game plan going forward.

Step Four – Make sure you understand the process

Chat with an advocate about time lines, what it means to qualify for services and what steps are next.

Some families already know that their child will qualify for services. If that is the case, start with step four and get with an advocate as soon as possible to make a vision/game plan for your child’s future.

Melissa Griffiths is a Special Education & Disability Rights Advocate, Speaker, and Trainer. She opened DFW Advocacy after learning that several of her friends left their ARD and 504 meetings not understanding their children’s goals and feeling defeated. She believes that inclusion is one of the most important facets of education and communities. She works to educate and support families, school districts, and organizations on the value of this principle.

About Us

DFW Advocacy supports and empowers families at home through Family Services and in the classroom through Special Education Advocacy.