When the parent and/or the classroom teacher is concerned about the learning progress of a child:
- Remember that the earlier a learning difficulty is identified, the more likely appropriate intervention strategies are to be successful.
- Always communicate with the classroom teacher regarding your child's progress in school
- Ask to see any reading/spelling/writing assessments that have been done at school.
- Have a clear understanding of your child's strengths and needs.
- Meet regularly to discuss what is being done at school to support your child, progress monitoring and ways in which you can support your child at home.
If a child continues to experience difficulty
- Meet with the classroom teacher, school administrator(s) and special education teacher(s) to identify the issues, further assessment and supports available at the school. Before the meeting, download a copy of the Special Education Advisory Committee Parent's Guide from the school board's website. This document will outline the process for getting further support for your child. This document is unique to each school board and the process involved in getting support varies by school board.
- At the meeting:
- Discuss the child's strengths, needs and how they are being met in the classroom.
- Discuss any reading intervention program offered at the school. Ask for details on how the intervention program is delivered, who delivers it, what is taught and how progress is monitored.
- Discuss accommodations which may be used in the classroom to assist your child to meet the expectations set out in the Ministry of Education's curriculum. Accommodations could include supports such as special seating in the classroom, extra time for exams, a quiet place to write exams. For older children, accommodations may include the use of assistive technology (computer-assistance) but this should not replace an effective reading intervention program.
- "Modifications" could be considered, which are modifications of curriculum expectations. However, this is often not necessary if a child gets appropriate reading instruction and support.
- The school should carry out frequent assessment and re-evaluation of the student's needs and achievements, as shown in Figure 8 of the 'Learning for All K-12' document written by the Ontario Ministry of Education (p. 48).
- An Individual Education Plan (IEP) should be developed for your child, which outlines any interventions, accommodations and modifications. The Ontario government document "Individualized Education Plan" outlines what is in an IEP (p. 6) and the IEP process (Figure 2, p. 10).
- The IEP is a legal document and parents must have input into its development. It must be reviewed on an annual basis.
- A formal Identification, Placement and Review Committee (IPRC) meeting can be called by a principal or by a parent, through written request.
- An IPRC meeting is a formal meeting with the school that is governed by provincial regulation, including appeal procedures. Consult the Parent's Guide or the principal about the process within your school board.
- The purpose of an IPRC meeting is to determine whether or not a child should be identified as 'exceptional', which makes them formally eligible for Special Education resources and/or placement in a Special Education program.
- Educational and/or psychological assessments may be carried out by the school before the IPRC meeting. A parent may also ask to have a psychological assessment done by the school, but some parents choose to expedite the process by having a pscyhological assessment done through a private psychologist.
- Further information about the IPRC process can be found on the Ministry of Education website here .
- A student does not need to be formally identified as 'exceptional' to access special education programs and/or services (as stated in the Policy/Program Memorandum No. 8 2014). Formal identification has legal status under the Education Act (Regulation 181/98), with legally binding procedures, including a formal appeal process.
- Students who are identified as 'exceptional' through the IPRC process must have an IEP.
- Speak to outside agencies and seek support.
- Consider hiring a private reading tutor. Click here for advice on seeking professional help.
- As a parent/guardian, you are your child's best advocate.
- Start and maintain a folder of all letters and materials related to your child’s education.
- Include copies of school files and names and dates of all assessments and results.
- Collect samples of schoolwork that demonstrate your child’s difficulties.
- Collect examples of your child’s unique strengths and natural affinities.
- Keep a contact log of discussions with professionals.
- Keep a log of your own observations.
- Work with your child’s teachers to support your child and develop and monitor the Individual Education Plan.
- Know your legal rights.
- Consider bringing someone (perhaps with knowledge about learning disabilities) with you to meetings at the school. This person can assist with taking notes. Often a lot of information is shared at these meetings and it helps to have someone there as support.
- Write down any questions/concerns ahead of time.
- Be clear and concise about what you want to see happen for your child.
- If you choose to have a psychological assessment done, ensure it is completed by a qualified, licensed psychologist.
Ontario Ministry of Education Documents
Curriculum and Learning documents
Growing Success - Assessment, Evaluations and Reporting in Ontario Schools, First Edition, Covering Grades 1 to 12. (2010)
Special Education documents
Policy/Program Memorandum 8 - IDENTIFICATION OF AND PROGRAM PLANNING FOR STUDENTS
WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES (2014)