What if I Have Concerns About My Child's Progress in School?

When you have concerns, your child's teacher or other staff that work with your child can be good resources. Share your concerns with them. If the teacher has concerns, ask questions. Give yourself time to reflect on how their information does or doesn’t match what you know about your child.
Get Involved!
You know and understand your child's needs better than anyone. Your input is important, and often legally required, when creating a plan of action for their success. It is important to get involved so that you have input on the solutions chosen for your child.
Take a moment to reflect on your current feelings:
  • There is a lot to learn. You probably did not plan for your child to have a learning challenge or disability. Supporting your child may get rough at times. You don't have to do it alone. Some families find strength within themselves. Others find support to help handle stress and challenges. If you do not have a personal support system, there are resources available.

  • Collecting information about your child’s challenge, services available, parent groups, advocates, experts and what you can do to support your child can be very helpful to your child and empower your family.

  • Keep in mind that the word ‘disability’ is a legal term that allows children who need extra support to receive it. A learning challenge does not mean your child cannot learn. It may mean special supports are needed for them to make progress. If school staff see behavior issues that you do not see at home, it might be because your child’s learning needs are not being met. Often small adjustments can go a long way in helping a child blossom, remove learning frustrations, and support positive behaviors. Children are often unable to express themselves or do not know what they need. It is important to always be patient with yourself and your child.
It may also help to remember:
  • Children develop at different rates.
  • Most parents aren’t prepared for their child to have learning challenges or a disability.
  • You can 'wait and see’ or ask for help, assessments, clarification, and anything else that you need to support your child.
  • It is not your “fault.” Talking with people who have been through it can help.sign
You may go through a grieving process, possibly multiple times over the course of your child’s educational journey. This is natural and may include the following feelings in any order and at any time:
  1. Denial — “Never.” “Not my child.” “They'll grow out of it.”
  2. Guilt — “Why me?” “If only I had...”
  3. Isolation — “It's too much trouble to take my child out.” “I don't want
    kids to make fun of them.”
  4. Panic — “Will my child ever learn to take care of themself?”
  5. Anger — “No one can help me.” “Why aren’t they doing more?”
  6. Bargaining — “Maybe if I...” “Maybe if they...” “Maybe if my child...”
  7. Hope — There are resources that can support my child.”
  8. Acceptance — “There are good days and bad days. We'll make it.”
My Child is Having Trouble — What can I do?
Choose the path and speed that you are comfortable with. When you are ready, consider the possible paths you can take.
My child is struggling, I'm not sure what they need. 
  • Talk with the teacher about your concerns
  • Ask questions about strategies being used
  • Ask what is working/not working.
  • Share information you think is important about your child's learning style.
  • Ask school staff about SST (School Success Team) or COST (Coordination of Services Team) support.
My child may or may not have a disability. 
In addition to the above, you can also:
  • Request in writing (to the principal if possible) for a 504 assessment to find out if your child qualifies for a 504 plan*.
  • Request in writing (to the principal if possible) a special education assessment to find out if your child qualifies for special education services*.
*504 and special education assessments require your written consent. For more info, see the 504 Plan and IEP Chart (summarized with Understood.org permission)
My child doesn't qualify for special education services. 
  • Ask for SST or COST support
  • Request school staff hold a SST to discuss your child's learning difficulties, decide on strategies to help and measure their progress.
  • Consider asking your school principal about a 504 plan to assist your child.
My child has an IEP and I have concerns. 
  • Speak with your child's teachers or support staff.
  • Speak with the special education case manager about your concerns.
  • Request an IEP meeting as needed.
  • Request additional or updated assessments as needed.
Support is based on your child's current needs.
When your child's needs change, their support needs may also change.
For more info: 504 Plan and IEP Chart