I am the mother for four school aged children. While there are similarities, each of them are different in how they learn and what they excel in. While living in England and seeing different education styles of the teachers, I realized how some of their teachers taught to my child’s strengths. There are so many things from the English school system that I would love to incorporate into the US system. My kids would be so happy!
So here I am 5 years later and I have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for three of my four children. As an ignorant parent, I thought that an IEP was only for children who had learning disabilities. Oh how wrong I was!!! My rising 2nd grader has one for a speech impediment and that I thought was normal. For rising 7th and 10th graders, we started with 504 plans. In simple terms, a 504 plan is part of an anti-discrimination act that makes sure that kids with ADHD, Diabetes, vision or hearing problems, etc. For my oldest daughter, (ADHD, bipolar depression, anxiety) we felt that this was enough, at first, to make sure she had the resources to learn. What I found out later, was that she needed more. When you qualify for special education and IEP under the section of “other health impaired” (OHI), it opens up so many more services for my child. Part of her IEP includes being in classrooms that have two teacher’s instead of one. Why? Because my daughter cannot handle an unruly classroom. She learns very well in a classroom setting (she’s a visual and audio learner), but if there is not classroom control, she can’t learn. My son, the rising 7th grader, started with a 504 because of his type 1 diabetes. Unfortunately, diabetes can be linked to anxiety (click here for one study). As we moved for with school we had other issues that could not be helped and he now has an IEP for OHI and his ADHD. What the OHI has done is open services for them to go to a quiet space or a counselor to talk through what is causing a problem now. The overall goal is for them to stay in the classroom 100% of the time and these support systems help them get there.
So for next year, my rising 2nd grader will have speech therapy. The rising 6th grader has no accommodations and is excited about what is to come! The rising 7th grader will be attending an alternative middle school that has services that are there to deal with children with emotional disabilities that struggle to learn in a traditional learning environment, but do not have learning disabilities. His classes will be made up of team taught classes (one general education and one special education teacher) and self-contained special education classes that will be smaller in size and help him to concentrate better on the topics that he struggles with. And finally, the rising 10th grader will be at her regular high school and will be in team taught classes for her core subjects for a less hectic environment.
I figure if Peter Pan can fly with Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust, my kids will succeed with Faith, Trust and Prayer!!!
And just a note for those who cringe when they think of their child being labeled “special education”… Special Education is for all students that are taught outside of a regular general education program. So that means students from those when the most severe learning disabilities to the students in the gifted and talented program are special education. And best yet, none of them wear a label!