A Good Fit? – 10 Questions to Ask When Considering a School for Your Special Needs Child

 In Special Needs Planning

iStock_000017831176LargeYou know your child best.  You know the kind of environment he thrives in.  You know what causes him anxiety.  You understand what motivates him.  Yet, the task of selecting a school for your child can still be challenging.  Asking the right questions is a great place to start.  The answers you find will then be put to the test: Is that a good fit for my child?

1. Size?

What is the size of the school and the individual classrooms?  What is the average student: teacher ratio?  Student: aide ratio?

2. Experience?

How experienced is the school in working with special needs children?  How old is their program?  How knowledgeable are the teachers?

3. Physical Access?

Is the school fully equipped with the physical access accommodations your child will need?

4. Support Programs?

What support programs and extracurricular activities are available that would benefit my child academically, socially and behaviorally?

5. Flexibility?

Is the school flexible in providing alternative accommodations when needed?  (i.e. allowing a child to visit the library instead of going to recess if the playground environment produces anxiety)

6. Classroom Priorities?

What are the priorities of the special needs classes (academic, behavioral, social, etc.)?  How are those priorities ranked?

7. Leadership that Values Inclusion?

Does the school have effective leadership that strives for inclusion?  How is this reflected?

8. Teaching Strategy?

What strategies are used in teaching, and have they produced marked success for the students?

9. Values Independence?

Does the school and the special needs program place a high value on developing independence?  How is this reflected?

10. Expectation Level?

Does the school have high expectations for all of the students?  What kind of strategies do the teachers use to motivate the students to excel?

These questions are just a starting point – ask more, ask often.  Meet with any prospective school’s principal and teachers your child may have. Visit the school more than once and ask to sit in and observe during a normal school day.  Finally, no matter what school your child attends, never stop being your child’s best advocate, and – be encouraged, you are doing a great job!

For information on planning to fund your child’s future education, schedule a visit at our office to discuss your personalized Estate Plan & Special Needs Plan.

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