Monday, August 19, 2013

Here Comes School: iKNOW

He changes the times and seasons.
    He gives power to kings,
    and he takes their power away.
He gives wisdom to people, so they become wise.
    He lets people learn things and become wise.
~ Daniel 2:21, ERV ~

See that photo above?  That's me addressing a statewide diagnostic group on patient legislative advocacy.  That is a confident, competent woman, sure of her personal experience and training.  That is an adult who is qualified enough to lead a group of her fellow patients in an area where they are not very familiar.

So, why does that same patient advocate shrink back when it comes to dealing with the schools?  I am sure I am not the only parent who experiences this.  We become nervous as the school year approaches.  We defer to the "professionals" on staff in school administration or to the teachers.  After all, they are with the children all day, so they have a better picture of what is actually going on, right?  We may feel uncomfortable with the way an IEP is being implemented or question what we are being told about our child, but we assume those with credentials know better than us in given situations, and we have it wrong.

Yet, God gives wisdom to parents who seek His face.  He made us the experts on our own children.  I am not implying that we should always assume that our "little angel" is never problematic at school, but I am saying that there's a reason that the Lord gives us that little feeling in the pit of our stomach telling us when something is not quite right.  We need to listen to that feeling.

Each school year is a lesson for parents in and of itself.  Take those lessons into the new school year to equip you for what lays ahead.  For example, after a horrible school year last year, I learned:
  • When you sense things are not going right at school, intervene early.  Unfortunately, school issues can often take a ridiculous amount of time to resolve.  It's not unlike watching the painfully slow process of lawmaking.  In education, the longer you take to push for resolution, the longer it will take for your child to have the type of school year they deserve.
  • Do not allow your school district to change your child's plan from an IEP to a 504 if they are transitioning to another school.  I gave my school district the benefit of the doubt because I had such a wonderful, trustworthy team at our grade school.  However, that 504 was like having nothing when it came to my daughter's daily life after she entered intermediate school.  They didn't even start giving her basic accommodations until more than half-way through the year, when I had made a nuisance of myself.  If your child has met the goals in grade school, have them create new ones for the middle school transition.  The same goes from intermediate school to high school.
  • The older children get, the more apparent it is that school administration tends to feel compassion for those with physical diagnoses, while those with invisible challenges like Autism Spectrum Disorders or ADHD are viewed as "bad" kids in need of discipline.  My son with hemophilia was treated with incredible kindness and dignity, while my daughter with ADHD and Asperger's was constantly getting hauled into the Vice Principal's office.  She was even given a detention after school one day that was in direct conflict with her 504 Plan.
These are just a handful of the lessons I learned from our agony last year.  My daughter experienced relentless bullying that was never resolved in a reasonable manner.  She lacked lasting friendships.  And she was academically stressed.  

Needless to say, I will not let these challenges become stumbling blocks for us this year.  I know what God has revealed to us in all the turmoil and heart ache.  He has opened my eyes to where I was too trusting.  He has shown me those who are trustworthy.  Most of all, He has made me the blessed steward of 3 remarkable children.  Because of that, it is my highest calling to rise to the occasion, like that professional advocate in the photo, and trust that I know what I am doing.  Christ lives in me, and because of that, wisdom and learning are only a prayer away.

What are some of the lessons you are carrying with you, as a parent, into this new school year?

PRAY:  Father, the accuser seeks to kill, steal and destroy, including our school year.  Protect our family and give us Your guidance as we begin again.  Strengthen us to walk in confidence that we know what You are revealing to us, especially in regards to our children.  Thank You that we don't have to face these struggles alone.  You are so faithful!

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