I am the mother of several children who need special accommodations. Last week I attended three different meetings for my children. Rather than feeling excited and hopeful after these meetings, a few comments were made that have stuck with me and made me feel weary and disheartened. I share them today because I believe my perception of the comments is very different from what the teacher meant to say. In order to alleviate the same miscommunication for others, I am sharing the comments, along with a kinder way that the information could be conveyed.
"We have several kind children who are willing to play with your child and will include her in their group".
I understand what is trying to be said here:You can be happy because your daughter is being included in social activities. But what I hear is: It takes the kindness of other students in order for your daughter to have anyone that is willing to play with her.
I am aware that social skills are hard for my daughter, but as a mother, a kinder way to state this would be," Your daughter has really enjoyed playing with some of the other children in the classroom. It is nice to observe other children beginning to see how funny your daughter is and what a kind heart she has. "
"It is my ethical duty to tell you that in 3 years, when your daughter is reevaluated, she will probably not qualify for these services."
I believe what is trying to be said here is that my daughter is showing great improvements and may not continue to need these services. But what I hear is: We were willing to look the other way this year and allow your daughter to continue to have an IEP, but I just need to let you know that in the future, you may not be so lucky.
A better way to state this would be: "Your daughter is making such wonderful improvements. I will be excited to see where she is at in three years, when we reevaluate. Perhaps at that point a 504 will better meet her needs. You should be so proud of her."
"I want you to know that the school could just send a tutor to your home and that would meet their legal obligations." (This was the response when we asked for transportation for summer camp for my wheelchair bound son.)
I"m not really sure what was trying to be said, unless it was exactly what I heard which was: You should be thankful that we are willing to give your son summer school at all.
Don't be so greedy in asking for transportation, or it can all be taken away.
A better way to state this would be:
" We will be happy to ask the district for transportation, as we can understand how difficult it is to transport your son in a wheelchair. If for some reason the district denies it, would you be able to find a way for your son to make it to camp?"
I would love to hear from both teachers and parents about comments that are often spoken at these meetings. I often think the intentions are good, but somehow in the communication, misunderstandings occur and the relationship breaks down. Perhaps with just a few changes in the way the information is conveyed, everyone can leave the meeting feeling that the child is a cherished member of the school.