Children with learning disabilities need a gentle push and support from parents and teachers to get by in school. Do remember, a disability is only a barrier to your child’s learning capability, it’s not a barometer of their intelligence.
They are as intelligent as any other child in class. But they have health concerns that restrict them from living up to their full potential.
That’s why special education needs to be an active part of mainstream schools. Now, more and more Singapore schools are making it a part of their curriculum.
To make this journey easier, parents and teachers need to formulate individual education plans for students with disabilities.
An Individual Education Plan or IEP is like a road map of the child’s learning journey. It will help them achieve their academic goals.
Given the challenges, making an IEP will only help you process their year comfortably without the school getting overwhelming for the child.
For those parents who want to set up an individual education plan for their children, here’s what you need to remember.
Why Should Have An Individual Education Plan?
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An IEP helps children with learning disabilities overcome their personal barriers to succeed in school. These issues may include speech and sight disability, fine motor skills, concentration issues, and more.
IEP factors these problems and can chart out one-on-one classroom sessions, tutoring, special classroom materials and a revised schedule.
In order to create an individualised education plan, parents, teachers and a child specialist need to come together and evaluate the child.
A representative from the school will also be a part of the process. All members involved will work together to form an individual education plan for the academic year.
Individual Education Plans for students with disabilities will contain the following:
1. Current skill level
Before creating an individual education plan, your child’s functional performance is assessed that includes motor skills, behaviour and interpersonal relationships.
Based on this and how the disability affects them, you can create a baseline for the IEP.
Apart from assessments, the team will also look at feedback from teachers, your observations and the child’s limitations projected during the evaluation.
2. Annual goals
A team will create an IEP for about one academic year. This depends on what kind of challenges that your child has to deal with.
If there are any physical or mental therapy sessions happening alongside schooling, you would want to reevaluate the goals after one year.
For instance, if the child is dealing with speech impediment issues and undergoing therapy for the same, they are more likely to be more confident at the end of the year when they’ve managed to overcome the issue.
This will also help build their confidence and help them make friends in the class. It’s a holistic development then, and accordingly, you will have to re-assess goals for the next year.
Factoring such things, parents, teachers and evaluators need to set goals that the child can meet in a year. Each objective should be measurable and needs to be realistic.
Parents, teachers and peers will also have to be active participants in helping the child achieve their annual goals in the school and at home.
3. Special services and concessions that your child needs
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An IEP must mention if the child needs special services, stationery utensils, and concessions to meet their goals and progress.
Kids with fine motor skills may find it difficult to write with their hands but will be more comfortable typing and taking down notes.
Similarly, kids with dyscalculia may require a calculator to solve equations, even though it may be simple math to other children.
It also needs to mention if kids need extra time for exams, question paper with larger font, special one-on-one sessions, special instruction and more.
4. Service duration of an individual education plan
This is necessary that everyone involved is aware of the challenges, goals and requirements, and are on the same page about the same.
An IEP should include a beginning and an end date and the frequency of the services. The team also needs to mention the how, when and where the services will be delivered.
5. Mainstream classroom participation through an individual education plan
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The idea of an IEP is to not only help the child achieve their academic goals but also help them improve holistically. And a major part of this is to make them a part of the larger classroom with students of their age.
The inclusion process also ensures children with disabilities are able to actively participate in the classroom, interact with other students and leverage the perks of a mainstream school.
An IEP needs to specify the amount of time a student will participate in the mainstream classes. It also needs to explain why the child needs to do so.
Apart from active learning, an individual education plan also needs to talk about plans for transitioning the child to higher classes. This becomes imperative when moving from primary to secondary classes.
Transitional services are necessary and designed to promote independent living. For students transitioning to college and university, this becomes extremely important and will help them prepare and plan ahead.
We’d like to reiterate that children with disabilities are just as intelligent and in most cases, smarter than their peers. That’s why a gentle nudge is what they to catch up with the rest of the class.
Schooling can be a daunting process when you don’t understand things or are unable to keep up.
An individual education plan will help eliminate that anxiety and will let your child concentrate on learning, helping them achieve the best version of themselves.