By Kristin Stanberry
Your child’s 504 plan has been set in motion. Is the school delivering what it promised? Use these tips to monitor the situation throughout the year.
The 504 plan should state not only what special services your child will receive but also the name of the person is responsible for it. Try casually asking your child, “Have you worked with Mr. Jones this week?” Your child’s answer may tell you a little—or a lot—about how well the 504 plan is being followed.
Keep an eye on your child’s homework, graded assignments and test scores. Do you see signs of your child’s accommodations being used? If so, is he making progress? Jot down any concerns you have. Does your child seem to feel confident or discouraged about school? He may tell you outright. But often what tells us the most is what kids don’t say.
Help your child understand the services outlined in his 504 plan. Describe the services in concrete terms that match his maturity level. It might be as simple as asking if he’s taking all his tests in a quiet room. Or it may be more complex, such as asking about a certain assistive technology tool. Either way, you might get information while planting the seeds of self-advocacy.
The parent-teacher conference is a good time to get a handle on your child’s progress. Ask the teacher if she’s following your child’s 504 plan. Share any concerns based on what you’re seeing at home. Ask her honest opinion about what she thinks is and isn’t working in the 504 plan. Make notes to refer to when you meet with your child’s team.
If you think the school isn’t providing all of the services and supports in your child’s 504 plan, don’t wait until next year’s meeting to speak up. Be proactive and contact the school principal. Give him a chance to clear up any misunderstandings and correct any problems. If corrective action is required, make sure it happens. Be friendly but firm.
If you take the steps above but aren’t satisfied with the results, you can request a special meeting. Bringing the team together may be the best way to get answers to your concerns about your child’s 504 plan. You’ll either get the reassurance you need—or get your child’s 504 plan back on track.
How can you ensure your child’s 504 plan meeting is successful? These tips will help you be proactive, prepared and ready to participate in the meeting.
Schools have a lot of leeway when developing 504 plans. So it’s smart to create your own structure and detail. Try these tips as you and the school develop your child’s 504 plan.
Kristin Stanberry is a writer and editor specializing in parenting, education and consumer health/wellness.
Barbara Hubert, M.S.Ed., an adjunct instructor at Hunter College, teaches grad students how to create supportive, accessible, inclusive classrooms.
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