Special Education and the school
I thought I would share some information on how we support your child’s at school, with specific reference to the Special Education supports available. Understanding the education system can be hard to do and navigating it can sometimes be daunting. Hopefully, this blog with alleviate some of that.
Supports start in the classroom. Classroom activities should be differentiated. In a simplified way, this means that teachers will give students different ways to access learning tasks and/or present information.
In general, if and when your child is experiencing difficulties in class completing everyday activities that are provided by the classroom teacher even when differentiated, there is a process that is followed. Supports start as “informal” and may become “formal” if necessary.
Here is a snapshot of the process:
The teacher will contact you (directly or through a note/ planner/ phone call/ report card) to discuss concerns, At this time, they may discuss strategies that you can help with at home (reading to or with your child, counting/ practising math facts),
If the teacher has tried strategies and the child needs further support, they will request an IST (In School Team Meeting) where the teacher, resource teacher, Principal or Vice-Principal, and possibly the Child and Youth Counsellor (especially in cases of behaviour and self-regulation) will meet to discuss strategies. IST may recommend supports as well as creating an IEP (Individual Education Plan) to support a child’s learning in the classroom. An IEP will outline accommodations (the student can use a computer to read/ listen to a grade level text, for example) and/or modifications (a change to the actual grade level curricular expectations) for your child. An IEP is a legal working document into which the school and you, the parent, have input.
If the student continues to experience real difficulties with the regular grade curriculum, you may be contacted and told that your child will be brought to CST ( Consultant Supported Team). This team involves the IST team as well as our Special Education Consultant, Speech and Language Consultant, and Educational Psychologist. This is a more formal “board level” meeting. CST may recommend further at home and in class supports such as taking your child for hearing and vision screening at the doctor’s, direct support from the resource teacher, speech and language support, and perhaps a psycho-educational assessment (our school receives time for 3 of these per year) to identify a possible learning disability and more specifics on the way your child learns.
Here are some other supports that we put in place:
Our incredible Educational Assistants (EAs – we have 9) support students with self-regulation. They may have sensory stressors and require a break at times from work and the class environment. This why we have a “hub” at our school, where students can go to “reset”.
Body Breaks are also provided by the classroom teacher in class.
We also receive support from our English Language Learner EAs and Teacher.
Our Child and Youth Counsellor is integral in developing strategies for self-regulation as part of the behavioral team. Our Child and Youth counsellor also supports with mental health.
We work hard to support students at the school. You, as a parent, are essential to the success of this process too. For more information on the supports available please visit the board website at https://www.ugdsb.ca/programs/special-education/
And, of course, you can always contact the school. We are here to help you navigate the system, answer questions, and work tirelessly to support your child. We have an amazing team.