Right now my little school is still in the beginning planning stages, but I like to do a lot of my planning in writing. Today I wrote these Q and A that would be geared towards parents of children with special needs who might want to join our school. At some point when the school is ready to go I will add these to the school’s actual website. (Right now I do have a PLANNING website here: emaze.me/somedayschool.
Q. My child has special needs. Will he be qualify for your school?
A. The decision about whether our school is a good fit for any child, with or without special needs, will be made by the student, his family, and school staff as a team.
Q. Will my child have an IEP at your school?
A. Students don’t necessarily need IEPs at this school, because they are allowed to learn at their own rate and in their own style. IEPs in public schools are meant to make sure that students with special needs have accommodations and modifications so that they can access the curriculum that is being provided to everyone, or so that they can be given specially designed instruction. But at our school, each student’s curriculum is tailored just for them, by them. However, if your student is coming from a public school and already has an IEP, we will be glad to meet with you and go over it.
Q. Your school does not seem very structured. What about students with autism spectrum disorders who need structure?
A. Part of helping a student to become independent will involve helping him structure his own day. We will not have a pre-determined schedule that we will make your child follow. However, with the help of his family and the staff at the school, a student who needs that structure can set up his own daily schedule. We can even help create a visual schedule and other visual reminders that he may need.
Q. How will you make sure that my student is doing his work?
A. In some public schools, staff will go so far as to place students in chairs with trays so that they cannot stand up to leave, or use their bodies or furniture to block them into a certain area while they work, or withhold preferred activities or snacks until the work is done. We will not do that. What we will do is provide opportunities for structured learning as well as opportunities for self-directed learning. We’ll help them to follow their interests and curiosities. But we will not force them to learn or to do certain activities.
Q. When my child was in a public school he had a 1:1 aide with him throughout his day. Will he have a 1:1 aide with him at your school?
A. We are an extremely small school and don’t have the funds to pay a staff member to work 1:1 with a student throughout the day. However, we want children to have the opportunity to be part of our school if at all possible. We’d invite you to attend with your child for a few sample days to see how he functions in our school. If you and/or we think your child would need a 1:1 adult with him for safety reasons, we can look into finding a solution. Some possibilities would be helping you hire someone to attend with your student, or looking for a volunteer staff member who would work with your student full time.
Q. My child has had behavioral issues in school. Will he still qualify for your school?
A. Again, there is nothing that would automatically “disqualify” a child from our school. We would meet with the potential student and his family to talk about the school and whether it would fit his needs. Some behaviors that are seen as negative in a traditional school are acceptable at our school. For instance, if a child refuses to do his work, or has difficulty staying in his seat, or is very active, he can be seen as having behavior problems in a traditional school. In our school, these things are okay, and so he would not be seen as having behavioral problems. Also, some students develop behavior problems because they are frustrated at being forced to do certain things. At our school students don’t have to worry about entering control battles with adults. Our main rules are keeping ourselves and others safe, and being kind and respectful.