A Big Step: Our Family’s Transition to School (Part 2)

Read Part 1

Following an enjoyable summer, a week before school started, we met with our son’s school team; kindergarten teacher, Resource Teacher and Educational Assistant. Everything was in place: a designated change room, as he was not yet potty trained, a room for his physiotherapy, occupational therapy and time away from the classroom. We were really impressed how much was done to make sure that our son was integrated into a regular school and classroom.

Once school starts, it is important to start thinking about your child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP). The IEP is specific to your child’s goals that he or she is expected to achieve during the school year. It is a working document and can be changed or updated at any time. It is up to the parents to decide what information will be included in the IEP, if you don’t agree with it, don’t sign it. As parents we know best whether the goals listed are attainable by our child.

Our final challenge came when we wanted to enroll both of our children in the afterschool program. When I called the School Board to find out whether resources would be put into place for my son, I was immediately told no! I decided to do my own research on the subject. I learned that according to the Ministry of Education Act, services for children with special needs are to be provided during school hours and any extended program that the School Board offers. I sent an e-mail to the Ministry of Education requesting clarification. A few weeks later, a representative from the Ministry contacted and informed me that I was in fact correct.

I contacted the Principal at the school, the Superintendent at the School Board and they did not expect my call. The most important thing that I have learned in all of this is: know your rights! Never take no as the first answer. Do your research. Yes, it is time consuming and as a full time working individual I know how stressful it can be. Use all your resources, whether it is a Counselor, a Resource Consultant or another parent that has already been through the process. Get to know the Education Act and what your child is entitled to. Do not be skeptical or afraid to contact the proper individuals that are in a position of authority. The Ministry of Education is in place to take your complaint seriously and investigate on your behalf.

My son is a happy boy that has flourished in the school system. He has received excellent support and resources and he loves going to school.

Written by Kasia and Doug