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I THINK MY CHILD MAY BE GIFTED; WHAT SHOULD I DO TO ENSURE THAT THEY RECEIVE AN APPROPRIATE EDUCATION?

PARENTING THE GIFTED CHILD

www.SpecialEducationLawyers.org

www.SpecialEducationLawyers.org

You have noticed your infant is unusually alert, has a lengthy attention span, and sleeps much less than other children his age. As a toddler, he displays a high energy level, an almost photographic memory, and he is developing an extensive vocabulary. Perhaps your child has intense reactions to noise, pain and frustration, and she seems sensitive and compassionate beyond what is usual for her age. As a preschooler, your child is fascinated with books and demonstrates a vivid imagination, which may include imaginary friends. She displays an active curiosity and a keen sense of humor.  Your child thrives at using abstract reasoning and problem solving skills. All of these qualities may be signs that your child is gifted. 

If you suspect your child is gifted, it is important to take steps to verify your suspicions and then form a strategy to nurture your child’s unique gifts. Below is a plan of action to ensure early identification of your child’s giftedness, and to provide the understanding and challenges that your child will need to flourish.

1.     Speak with the Pediatrician

Keep an open dialogue with your child’s pediatrician. They will be able to provide you with information about whether or not your child is developing at an advanced rate. They are also a good source of information concerning local parenting groups for parents with gifted children. The doctor will also help you to brainstorm ideas about how to handle your inquisitive little one when it comes to skills and sleeping patterns.

2.     Help Your Child Discover Their Interests

Help your child to discover new interests by providing them with numerous opportunities to explore their creativity. Reading is a crucial part of expanding any child’s mind, and allows them to develop their imagination. Pretend play allows children to explore ideas and situations they are learning about from their books or witnessing in real life. Also, provide scaffolding opportunities where you demonstrate a difficult activity, such as putting together a puzzle. Discuss each step as you go, and then allow your child to explore it for themselves. Provide your child with access to a multitude of opportunities, such as art, music, sports, dance, etc. As they try new experiences, they will develop their own interests and learn new skills.

3.     Keep an Open Dialogue with the School

Once your child has reached school age, it is important that they spend time with other students who have similar abilities. Gifted students function best in an academic setting where they are allowed to progress at their own rate. This helps them develop independence by allowing them to make their own choices and use their unique creativity.

Become involved in your child’s school, and speak with the teacher(s) and administration about the best way to help your child thrive in that setting. Many schools have gifted programs that allow gifted students to spend part of their day with other students with similar abilities. If your child seems unchallenged, you may want to consider early entrance or acceleration.  This is a decision that should be thoroughly considered because it may not be the right method for your child. Grade acceleration is usually best done, at least from a social perspective, before the child reaches an age where they are established in their peer groups. If your child shows an interest in advancement, they are most likely ready for it.

4.     Ask for a Gifted Individual Education Plan (GIEP)

If you believe your child’s educational needs are not being met, you have the right to ask for a Gifted Individual Education Plan (GIEP). The school will first assess your child to determine their giftedness. This is accomplished using achievement, I.Q. and ability tests. Once giftedness is ascertained, a meeting is scheduled between the parents, regular educators and gifted educators and administration to determine a plan of action for your child. This is a working meeting where all members brainstorm ideas to meet your child’s unique needs. Together, this group will produce a roadmap for your child that encompasses not only the pullout gifted program, but also their regular education courses. It is important to remember that at the end of the meeting, you have the final approval of the proposed plan.

The GIEP addresses your child’s strengths and needs and assesses any modifications needed in their regular education classes, as well as any additional measures to be taken. It includes your child’s present levels of educational performance, their goals, short term learning outcomes, and specially designed instructions. At the end of the meeting you will be asked to sign a Notice of Recommendation Assignment (NORA).  The NORA allows the District to implement the GIEP.

As the school year progresses, make sure that the plans incorporated into the GIEP are being implemented into your child’s educational experience. If you have concerns, or if the plan is not working for your child, ask for another GIEP meeting to discuss changes. You may ask for this meeting at any time, not just once per year. 

5.     Be an Advocate

As in any other situation, it is important for you to be your child’s advocate. Meet with teachers early in the school year and continue regular communication throughout the year. Stay involved by volunteering in your child’s class, if you are able to do so. Join a parent’s group focused on parents with gifted children. This is important because it can be difficult to know how to best handle your gifted child. Having the support of others in the same situation will provide you with a solid foundation of knowledge and comfort during the trying times.

It is important to keep in mind that raising a gifted child comes with a unique set of triumphs and challenges. Providing ample opportunities for exploration and problem solving will nurture your child’s uniqueness. By accepting and respecting your child’s individuality, creativity, and curiosity you will instill a love of knowledge and strengthen their self-worth.  If you feel as though your child may be gifted, but that your school district is holding him or her back, you may want to consider hiring or consulting with an education attorney. Your child is afforded certain legal rights with respect to their education and attorney intervention is sometimes the appropriate solution. To learn more about gifted education check out the Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education’s Website. Joseph Montgomery proudly serves as their legal advisor.

To learn more about your legal rights when it comes to obtaining appropriate gifted education services for your child , give us a call at 215-650-7563.

Note, nothing in this article or on this website is to be considered medical or legal advice. 

We would love to know your thoughts / experiences, chime in below ..

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MY CHILD IS BEING BULLIED. HELP!

What should you do if your child is being bullied...

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The American Psychological Association defines bullying as, “aggressive behavior that is intended to cause distress or harm, involves an imbalance of power or strength between the aggressor and the victim, and occurs repeatedly over time. Bullying may take many forms, including physical, verbal, relational and cyber” (“Bullying and School Climate,” n.d.). Bullying is linked to decreased self-esteem, lower academic success, depression and suicide in its victims. Parents are the key to helping their children successfully overcome bullying.  By implementing the following game plan, parents can ensure their child’s mental and physical safety.

1.     Ask Questions

Certain groups of students are more likely to be targeted, for example, based on disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, weight, race or religion (“Bullying and School Climate,” n.d.). Despite this fact, bullying knows no bounds, and many children who are bullied keep it a secret. Victims may feel it is deserved, especially if they already have low self-esteem. They often suffer in silence because they feel humiliated, and they don’t want to embarrass their family. Parents need to keep the lines of communication open with their child. If you notice your child has become withdrawn, angry or emotional, investigate the situation.

2.     Be Your Child’s Ally

If your child confesses that they are being bullied, assure them they have your full attention and support. Let them know you will help in whatever way you can. Your first course of action is to become knowledgeable about the school’s anti-bullying protocol. This will provide you with a solid foundation when meeting with school officials. Also, make sure to document every incident in detail. Provide the dates, times, actions, and results. Going into a meeting with school representatives, armed with facts, provides you with knowledge and power to advocate for your child.

3.     Schedule a Meeting

Meet with your child’s teacher(s), guidance counselor and principal, face to face, to inform them of the situation. If your child has special needs, or an IEP, which includes other professionals, make sure those professionals are also at the meeting. Determine any knowledge officials have concerning incidents involving your child. School officials must document known incidents of bullying, and it is your right to request copies of those documents pertaining to your child.

As difficult as it may be, try to keep your emotions out of the discussion. Go in prepared with the facts, and discuss the detailed times, places, and descriptions of the incident(s). This will help officials understand the seriousness of the situation, and assist in forming a plan to correct the problem. Once a plan is agreed upon, make sure it is documented and signed by all members present. Make sure you leave the meeting with a copy of the document.

4.     Move Up the Chain of Command

If you feel your concerns are not being addressed by the teacher(s), guidance counselor, and principal, you may need to move up the chain of authority. Report your concerns to the school superintendent, school board, or state and federal law enforcement. It is important to make sure your school district is taking the situation seriously. Again, make sure you are tracking every incident with dates, times and facts. Details are crucial when discussing the incident, especially when talking with law enforcement. If you feel that despite your best efforts you are not being heard and you don’t feel as though your child is safe, contact an attorney.

5.     File an Official Complaint

Principals are required to notify the school and local authorities when a child is being threatened.  Parents should file a complaint each time there is an incident, not just the initiating occurrence. If the event rise to the level of being criminal, file a complaint with the local police. If you are unsure, contact an attorney.

6.     Get Professional Help

Arrange for your child to see an individual therapist to deal with the anxiety, depression and low self-esteem that often accompanies bullying. Suicide, attributed to bullying factors, is on the rise. Make sure your child has your support, and that of a professional therapist, to help them cope. This is the best way to ensure their mental and physical health and safety.

7.     Regulate Technology

Limit and/or monitor your child’s access to technology. With the advent of the internet, bullying has taken on a more sinister and widespread forum. Keeping track of your child’s cyber interactions can prevent them from being the victim of cyberbullying. Report any cyberbullying issues to the school and local law officials.

8.     Contact the U.S. Department of Education

If you are not receiving the help you need from your school officials, the U.S. Department of Education may be able to help. They take bullying seriously, and they may investigate the situation and assign an educational consultant to the case.

9.     Contact an Attorney

If you feel your concerns are being ignored, contact an attorney to handle your case. It is your child’s legal right to receive an education free from harassment. If you are not sure whether to contact an attorney then you should contact an attorney. Most attorneys accept free consultations and would be happy to talk to you, especially if a child’s safety is on the line.

10. Demand that your child’s rights are being protected.

Students face academic challenges every day of their school career, but they have the right to an education free from intimidation and harm. Parents can advocate for their child by knowing school policy, keeping lines of communication open with their child and the school, and demanding the schools help in assuring their child’s safety. With you as their warrior, your child will survive the bullying and thrive as a successful member of society.

To learn more about your legal rights when it comes to bullying, give us a call at 215-650-7563.

Note, nothing in this article or on this website is to be considered medical or legal advice. 

We would love to know your thoughts / experiences, chime in below ...

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