YOU are your child’s first teacher and most important role model. You are also responsible for your child’s welfare and have your child’s best interests at heart. You know your child better than anyone else. The professionals who work with your child are involved for only a few years. You are involved with your child for life. With the right information you will play an active role in planning your child’s future. The following information will help you develop your advocacy skills.
Do not expect school personnel to make long-term plans for your child — this is your responsibility.
Begin by thinking about your vision for your child’s future. What are your long-term goals for your child? What will your child need to learn? What services and supports will your child need to meet these goals?
Good records are essential to effective advocacy! Your log should include telephone calls and meetings, conversations, and correspondence between you and the school. Keep copies of all letters, reports, and consent forms. If you have kids with special educational needs, you can be overwhelmed by the paperwork in no time at all. Make sure you understand the relative importance of different documents and organize them sensibly.
Documentation that supports your position is a key to resolving disputes early. Your tools are simple:
Use a log to document all contacts between you and the professionals. Your log should include telephone calls, messages, meetings, letters, e-mails and notes between you and the professionals.
Your log is a record of:
You can use a log to document problems and to document conversations and meetings.
You can use a bound or loose-leaf notebook as a log. Be consistent!
TIP: If you use an electronic log, be sure to back up your files on more than one computer. Print the log often.
Calendars can provide good evidence about meeting dates and times.
TIP: Do not throw your calendar away at the end of the year!
Your journal is like a diary and should be clear and legible.