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Florida Circle of Parents E-Newsletter
Back to School
school-bus-banner School is a large part of a child's life, but when the child has special needs it can be a frustrating and difficult time for all involved. It is extremely important, as a parent, to advocate for your child and to maintain a strong and amicable relationship with your child's teachers. Explaining your child's condition to their teacher is essential so they understand the basis for any unusual behavior and can better handle it. This will also be helpful if your child needs extra academic support.
How to Be Your Child's Best Advocate: How to Talk to Your Child's Teacher
If your child is of school age, then some of the most important people in your child's life other than family and friends are his or her teachers.  Teachers will be spending a lot of time with your child during the day. So, it is all the more imperative for you, as a parent and advocate for your child, to foster a good working relationship between you and your child's teachers.
Getting to Know Your Child's Teachers:
You begin the process of getting to know your child's teachers right from the beginning of the school year.  Most schools have a "meet the teacher" day.  Don't miss it.  Most schools also have parent teacher young-girl-studying conference, especially for the primary grades.  If you have a child who has special needs or you have concerns, these meetings are of great value to you as a parent.  You want to find out the following information:
  • Who are all the teachers and staff who will be involved with my child?  If you are able, it would be a good idea to pay a visit to as many of your child's teachers as you can.
  • When I have questions or concerns, what is the protocol?  May I request a meeting?  Do the teachers use email?  What is the best way to contact you?
  • Who is the support or resource person who will address any questions pertaining to my child's special needs?
  • What are the school and classroom rules?  What happens when a child violates these rules?   What is the school policy as far as disciplinary action?  What if I disagree with these actions?
  • How do teachers reinforce or reward students for good behavior?  You want to see if the teacher is focused upon positive approaches towards managing classroom behavior as opposed to a teacher who simply reacts and punishes.
  • How will my child's special need be addressed in your classroom?  If your child has an IEP, the stated goals on that plan must carry over into each and every classroom.
These are but some of the questions you may wish to ask your child's teachers.  If your child has an IEP or Individualized Educational Program, then you may request a meeting at any time to discuss IEP
young-boy-reading concerns.  Basically you want to ensure that you understand how the teachers and school react to problems which may arise.  You don't want to be in the situation where you are totally surprised by what happens in your child's classroom.
Ways to Foster Good Communication with the Teacher:
Start your sentences with "I feel" or "I think that" instead of an accusatory tone of "You don't do this or you don't do that".
Listen to what is said even if it is difficult to hear.  We see our child at home and it may be a very different situation entirely when your child is in the classroom environment.  You don't have to agree with everything being said, but listen in an active way.  This means to seek clarification.  Say things like, "What I am hearing you say is...", and then see if what you are hearing is what the teacher had intended to say.
Show empathy.  It is true that some teachers are over worked with too many children in a classroom.  Some things you wish the teacher could do may not be practical.  Try to see things from the teacher's point of view of having to teach many children.  This is no excuse for mistreatment of children, nor is it an excuse for your child not getting the education he or she is entitled to.  But empathy does go a long way towards building rapport and a relationship with the teacher.
Convey that you are on his or her side in that you want to be of assistance to the teacher to help your child.  If you and the teacher are at odds, then your child loses out.
It is a relationship builder to show appreciation for attempts the teacher has shown at meeting your child's needs.  A little sugar goes a long way.
When there are problems:
Write it down.  If you are having consistent problems with a teacher, then you need to begin documenting your efforts.  Before scheduling a meeting, you should be able to send an email to the teacher outlining the problem and/or what you wish to talk about.  Keep this documentation should you need it later if there has been no resolution.
Take notes at meetings.  Write down what is said and enlist the teacher's help in clarifying what is agreed upon during these meetings.
Before ending a meeting with the teacher, write down an action plan of what will be done next to address the problem, a time table of when these things will be done, and who will do them.
Provide solutions.  Instead of playing the blame game of who is not doing what, enlist the help of the teacher to come up with reasonable solutions to any problems within the parameters of school policy.  If you question the teacher's interpretation of policy you can always ask for clarification from higher ups including the vice-principal and principal of the school.
If you need to, provide research, literature, letters from therapists, daddy and duaghter doctors, or other educational experts to help define your points.  Note that some teachers or school personnel will be defensive upon such presentations but in the end it may be just what you need to get what you need for your child.
Other suggestions:
An excellent way to get to know more about your child's teachers and what they do with your kid all day is to VOLUNTEER!   Getting involved in this way will provide you with tons of information both about how your child copes within the classroom as well as what the teacher's strengths and limitations may be.
Request that the teachers have a written log or notebook to communicate with you and with other teachers during the day.  It doesn't have to be anything cumbersome.  Just a few notes written each day about your child's behavior from each of his or her teachers can give you a heads up as to any potential problems.
Here are a few resources to assist you in advocating for your child:
The Special Needs Education Hotline:  800-610-2779
See more at: http://www.healthcentral.com/adhd/c/849319/58012/advocate-teacher/?ic=1112#sthash.EREv0YtU
Does Your Child's School Offer Recess?
Recess The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated what many parents and teachers already know: Recess is a crucial and necessary component of a child's development.
Because there is a growing trend to reallocate time in school for more academic subjects, many schools have cancelled recess. Further harm to students' access to recess is a practice used by some teachers to withdraw recess for punitive or behavioral reasons.
If you would like to advocate for recess at your child's school, you may want to use the following points taken from the AAP policy statement: The Crucial Role of Recess in School.
  • Cognitive/Academic Benefits: Children develop intellectual constructs and cognitive understanding through interactive, manipulative experiences.
  • Social and Emotional Benefits: Recess promotes social and emotional learning and development for children by offering them a time to engage in peer interactions in which they practice and role play essential social skills.
  • Physical Benefits: There is a wealth of literature published on the need for and benefit of physical activity and fitness, not only for a child's physical well-being, but also for academic maturation.
In their role as child health experts, the pediatricians of the AAP stress the following perspective to parents, teachers, school administrators and policy makers:
Recess is a necessary break in the day for optimizing a child's social, emotional, physical and cognitive development. In essence, recess should be considered a child's personal time, and it should not be withheld for academic or punitive reasons.
Cognitive processing and academic performance depend on regular breaks from concentrated classroom work. To be effective, the young boy with baseball frequency and duration of breaks should be sufficient to allow the student to mentally decompress.
Recess is a complement to, but not a replacement for, physical education. Physical education is an academic discipline.
Recess can serve as a counterbalance to sedentary time and contribute to the recommended 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per day.
Whether structured or unstructured, recess should be safe and well supervised. 
Peer interactions during recess are a unique complement to the classroom. The lifelong skills acquired for communication, negotiation, cooperation, sharing, problem solving and coping are not only foundations for healthy development, but also fundamental measures of the school experience.
Life Skills for Children
Mom Are you preparing your child to be independent? Teaching your child life skills is not only important for self-care and sufficiency- it also allows him to feel empowered, works on socialization and reasoning, and helps develop healthy self-esteem. This list of age-appropriate skills will help prepare your child for each stage of his life from preschool until the day he flies the coop.

Ages 2-3: Small Chores and Basic Grooming
This is the age when your child will start to learn basic life skills. By the age of three, your child should be able to:
  • Help put his toys away.
  • Dress himself (with some help from you).
  • Put his clothes in the hamper when he undresses.
  • Clear his plate after meals.
  • Assist in setting the table.
  • Brush his teeth and wash his face with assistance.
Ages 4-5: Important Names and Numbers
When your child reaches this age, safety skills are high on the list. She should know:
  • Her full name, address, and phone number.
  • How to make an emergency call.
  • Perform simple cleaning chores such as dusting in easy-to-reach places and clearing the table after meals.
  • Feed pets.
  • Identify monetary denominations, and understand the very basic concept of how money is used.
  • Brush her teeth, comb her hair, and wash her face without assistance.
  • Help with basic laundry chores, such as putting her clothes away, and bringing her dirty clothes to the laundry area.
  • Choose her own clothes to wear.
Ages 6-7: Basic Cooking Techniques
Kids at this age can start to help with cooking meals, and can learn to:
  • Mix, stir, and cut with a dull knife.
  • Make a basic meal, such as a sandwich.
  • Help put the groceries away.
  • Wash the dishes.
  • Use basic household cleaners safely.
  • Straighten up the bathroom after using it.
  • Make his bed without assistance.
  • Bathe unsupervised.
Ages 8-9: Pride in Personal Belongings
By this time, your child should take pride in her personal belongings and take care of them properly. This includes being able to:
  • Fold her clothes.
  • Learn simple sewing.
  • Care for outdoor toys such as her bike or roller skates.
  • Take care of personal hygiene without being told to do so.
  • Use a broom and dustpan properly.
  • Read a recipe and prepare a simple meal.
  • Help create a grocery list.
  • Count and make change.
  • Take written phone messages.
  • Help with simple lawn duties such as watering and weeding flower beds.
  • Take out the trash.

Ages 10-13: Gaining Independence
Ten is about the age when your child can begin to perform many skills independently. He should know how to:
  • Stay home alone.
  • Go to the store and make purchases by himself.
  • Change his own bed sheets.
  • Use the washing machine and dryer.
  • Plan and prepare a meal with several ingredients.
  • Use the oven to broil or bake foods.
  • Read labels.
  • Iron his clothes.
  • Learn to use basic hand tools.
  • Mow the lawn.
  • Look after younger siblings or neighbors.

Coursera logo Coursera is offering online a free 6-week course beginning September 15 called Resilience in Children Exposed to Trauma, Disaster and War. This course is presented by Ann S. Masten of the University of Minnesota. Those completing the course are eligible for a statement of accomplishment. 
You will need to use Google Chrome, Android App or I-phone. 
To register for this course please visit: https://www.coursera.org/course/resilienceinchildren
Family Day 2014
Family Family Day is a national initiative created by CASAColumbia to promote simple acts of parental engagement as key ways to help prevent risky substance use in children and teens.  

What started out in 2001 as a grassroots initiative to inform parents about all the benefits of frequent family dinners, has grown into a national movement that is supported by a network of partners and sponsors across the country.

Family Day has evolved and expanded to reflect how important it is to connect with your kids at various times throughout the day, including while driving your kids to soccer practice, tucking little ones into bed or having frequent family dinners. This year, Family Day is Monday September 22.

These everyday activities have a lasting effect on your children. Each of these moments offers an opportunity to communicate with your kids and to really listen to what's on their mind.

As children age, it is vital to keep those lines of communication open, especially during adolescence when they are at risk of engaging in risky behavior, including smoking, drinking or using other drugs.
Research shows adolescence is the critical period for the initiation of risky substance use and its consequences. Nine out of 10 Americans who meet the medical criteria for addiction started smoking, drinking, or using other drugs before age 18. Addiction is a disease that in most cases begins in adolescence, so preventing or delaying teens from using nicotine, alcohol, or other drugs for as long as possible is crucial to their health and safety.
While there are no silver bullets - addiction can strike any family regardless of ethnicity, affluence, age or gender - parental engagement can be a simple, effective tool to help you prevent substance use in your kids.

Make every day Family Day in your home!
"America's drug problem is not going to be solved in courtrooms or legislative hearing rooms by judges and politicians. It will be solved in living rooms and dining rooms and across kitchen tables - by parents and families."Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASAColumbia Founder and Chairman Emeritus.
Become a Family Day STAR!
I commit to:
S- Spend time with my kids
T- Talk to them about their friends, interests and the dangers of nicotine, alcohol, and other drugs
A- Answer their questions and listen to what they say
R- Recognize that I have the power to help keep my kids substance free!
Visit the link below to pledge to become a Family Day STAR!
We would like to extend a warm welcome to the Ocala Autism Support Network in Marion County.
Training Request!
To schedule an initial or refresher facilitator training, contact Training Specialist, Jean Gibson at jgibson@ounce.org or 850.921.4494 ext. 202
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