Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Special Education IEP (Individualized Education Program)

School has just begun and already concerned parents are asking the question, "What is a Special Education IEP (Individualized Education Program)?"

Parents that haven't been to an IEP have probably heard horror stories or think that there's no way they want their child to have an IEP. But if the child needs it they should have it.

In it's simplest form, an IEP is a roadmap to be followed for helping the child with a learning disability succeed in school. It also allows for accommodations and modifications, such as shortened assignments or extra time to do schoolwork.


If a specialist like a Speech and Language or Occupational Therapist is needed, the student will have access to them on a weekly basis.

It truly is an individualized education program.

Sure, it is a legal document and must follow rules, but it is in the best interest of the child that struggles in school to have an IEP so that they get the necessary help that can't be found from tutoring or "trying harder." Kids with learning disabilities actually have brains that try harder than kids without learning disabilities. It just doesn't look that way to the untrained eye.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Least Restrictive Environment

What is Least Restrictive Environment and how does it pertain to kids with learning disabilities?

According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), all schools are required to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment that is appropriate to the individual student’s needs.

The U.S. Department of Education regulations state that each public agency or school must ensure that:

1) To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are non-disabled.

2) Special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.

This is good news for parents that are worried that if their child has an IEP they will only be in special classes. Most of the time, they could be in regular classes with their peers and will only be pulled out for special instruction by an Occupational or Speech Therapist.

Friday, August 27, 2010

IEP Goals and Objectives

I read an interesting question from a parent regarding IEP Goals and Objectives. Apparently the school told the parent that they would no longer discuss her child's present levels of academic performance (PLP) at the IEP Meeting and she was to review them beforehand. The school said the IEP Meetings were too long and they only wanted to discuss Goals at the meeting.

Here's my question to the school: How can you set IEP Goals if you don't discuss current levels of academic performance? Aren't IEP Goals based on current levels of performance? After all, you need to have a baseline benchmark before setting a goal or an objective to be met.

I can understand that schools need to cut down on the time spent in IEPs but not at the expense of the child's best interests. And it also makes sense to give parents a clear reason to read and understand the meeting ideas before beginning the meeting. A little better communication would probably solve many issues regarding IEPs.

Parents should understand that they are part of the IEP Team and they have as much say as any other member of the team.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Go Green For Lunch

I just finished registering for school, paid all the fees and signed up for lunch tickets. Lunch prices are great but every once in a while you need to take lunch to school.

And while our district is proud of its green efforts, sometimes it's difficult to go completely green with some food items. Today, Great Schools featured a segment on going green for lunch with some good recommendations.

Shown above is just one item, the Kids Konserve Waste-Free Lunch Kit. There are ten pages of similar items that are worth a look. Sit through the short animation and the page will appear here: http://bit.ly/atBTN6

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Taj Mahal

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) built what is being billed as a “Taj Mahal” school to the tune of $578 million.

Photo: Jay L. Clendenin for the Los Angeles Times

Sure, it's a hefty price tag but after all, it's a school. And a park, and a public memorial. Hopefully it will be a trend that follows across the country. I sure wish I had one of these when I was still in school.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Used Elementary Textbooks Lighten the Load of Backpacks

Buying Used Elementary Textbooks at the beginning of the school year is a great way to lighten the load in your child's backpack.

I learned this a few years ago when I watched my youngest daughter struggle to ride her bike to school with a backpack full of books. I thought if we had a second set of books at home she wouldn't need to shuffle books between school and home.

So one night I copied all of the ISBN numbers from her books into Amazon.com and found ALL of them for $4 - $8 used.

Now every year at the beginning of school I buy used textbooks from Amazon for both of my kids so they have their regular set supplied by the school in their locker and another spare set at home for doing homework.

Another great part about having a second set of books at home is you never hear, "I left my books at school so I can't do homework tonight."

As parents we're not always so smart, but every once in a while a bit of brilliance shines through.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Learning Disability Simulation

One of my favorite exercises - the Learning Disability Simulation.

Do you have a learning disability? If you've ever forgotten where you put your keys, you may have ADD. Kidding. We ALL lose our keys at some time or another. It's when you lose your car that you have to start worrying.

Seriously, if you've ever wondered what it's like for kids in school with learning disabilities, take this simple Learning Disability Simulation. Look at the picture below. It's actually a hybrid image created by Dr. Aude Oliva of MIT.

Do you see Albert Einstein? If not, you're either a genius or...


To finish the test you'll need to follow this Learning Disability Simulation link.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fast Forword Completed This Summer

The big accomplishment this summer was completing Fast Forword. Five days a week for six weeks but we gained 4 grades in reading. Success!