Now that the school year is in full swing, it’s a good time for parents to schedule an observation of their child’s educational setting. In order to be proactive in your child’s educational progress, it’s important to know what’s occurring during the time they’re at school.
Autism Florida President, Stacey Hoaglund shares tips for monitoring your child’s education
When conducting a classroom observation:
• Look at your child’s schedule and decide which time would be most productive. If your child does well during math, but struggles during reading or writing, you might want to schedule a time during the literacy block. This will give you an opportunity to offer input that may assist the teacher during potentially difficult times for your child.
• Be prepared to give your child’s teacher at least 48 hours notice as to when you’d like to visit the classroom.
• When you arrive, try to sit in a location that’s nonintrusive to the children. If the children are grouped at one side of the room, try to sit on the opposite side. Make every attempt to sit facing your child’s back. If your child sees you watching him/her, their behaviors may be altered.
• Be prepared to take notes. During the observation is not the time to point out concerns that may come up.
• Do not engage with the teacher unless she initiates the conversation. You are there to observe his/her interaction with the students and the instruction that your child is receiving.
Some things to look for:
o Is your child seated in an appropriate location to benefit from instruction?
o Is your child receiving the necessary amount of adult support to be included within the setting and activity?
o Are all assistive devices being utilized (postural supports, graphic organizers, communication devices, pencil grips, technology, etc)?
o Is the room organized and can your child tell what the schedule and expectations are?
o Is your child given opportunities to engage in the lesson?
• Give yourself a few days to think about what you observed, then schedule a time to review your notes with the teacher.
• Thank the teacher for her time and being accommodating to your presence. When meeting with her, find at least two things that were positive about what you observed. Start with that. You want to keep your relationship with the teacher as positive as possible, while still advocating effectively for your child.