Inclusive education will not happen without planning and effort. As parents, you play a key role in your child’s education. Your role in guiding the education of your child is crucial. There is no other person who knows and understands your child as well as you do. You have witnessed your child’s growth, you have learned about his or her personality, likes, dislikes, strengths, and gifts. This knowledge is the basis for what is needed to successfully educate your child. In this regard, parents are the expert.
You also have something else that is perhaps more important. As with all of your children, you have dreams about what you want for your child. Do not dismiss these dreams because others may tell you that they are not possible. These dreams will be the main driving force for caring about what will happen to your child in school.
It is not enough to send your child to school and assume that everything will be fine. In addition to planning for your child’s education, know what is happening. To do this, you will want to develop a good relationship with your child’s school.
Also, involve your child in plans and decisions concerning his or her education. This is something that you would normally do for your children who do not have disabilities. Part of your child’s education is developing his or her ability to make decisions. This may be more difficult for your child who has a disability, but it is no less important.
You may face many struggles over the years to ensure that your child is getting the best education and the most opportunities possible. You may have to ask for help from others to see you through this process. A good source of help is other parents who are experiencing the same things you are. Many parents come together to talk about their concerns with one another. They also act together when difficulties arise in the school or school district. Some parents seek the help of advocacy organization such as the Association for Community Living. In New Brunswick , a family network has been established to provide parents with the opportunity to share information and support one another. For more information about the family network, click here.
Deciding What You Want for your Child
Most parents want their children to be educated in regular classrooms and to receive the necessary support to make inclusive education successful. Beyond these basic goals, you will need to think about what you specifically want for your child. Remember that going to school is about preparing children and youth for life as an adult. What dreams do you have for your child? How will your child be a contributing citizen in his or her community? Consider the following questions:
- What academic goals do you have for your child? These goals will likely change from year to year as your child learns more and more. Do not be afraid to set some high expectations with your child. Even if all your expectations are not achieved, it is better to expect more from the school system than less.
- In what kind of activities do you want your child to participate? Activities may include things that happen in regular classes or other activities such as school clubs (for example, a drama club or photography club), sports, field trips and other outings, dances, fundraising events, etc.
- Do you want your child to develop friendships with other children who do not have disabilities? Is it important to you and your child that friends contact your child during evenings, weekends or vacations?
- What do you want your child to do when school is finished? How can school prepare your child to work in the community or to do other activities?
Click here to be linked with worksheets that will help you think about these questions and identify specific goals and possibilities for your child. It is important to write things down as much as possible. You will want to do this at least once a year and use the information to influence the goals that are set out in your child’s education plan. You may have to set some priorities. Which goals do you and your child feel are the most important right now? Which goals do you wish to work on over the next few years?
You may also need to ask for help in trying to decide in what you want for your child. Help may come from other members of your family or your friends who also know your child well.