Thursday, September 20, 2012

1, 2,3....School. Getting Them the Help They Need

Fall has arrived and with it, the next school challenges. Many of our FRUA parents have already had your first back-to-school nights. Many of you may be hearing about new issues, or addressing learning or behavior challenges that came out last school year, only to subside over the summer and return with the advent of the new school-year routine. Which brings me to #3:

 #3 Get them the help they need....It doesn't take an expert to tell us that our kids can be complicated and they don't come with instruction manuals. Just when we've got one problem figured out, something else can pop up.  With each challenge we had, we tried to get the help needed at the time. That's what we parents do; get them the help they need  as we go, to help them reach their potential, whatever level that may be.

Many of you may be facing your first IEP meetings for your children.  For the first few years, we found it helpful, as FRUA-Wisconsin parents, to accompany each other to those meetings and continued that with FRUA-Colorado parent support. Not only did it give us a person on our side to take notes during those tense meetings, but it provided confirmation of our points. Often the other FRUA parent could second the things we had to say about the environments from which our children had come and the typical behaviors of post-institutionalized children. They could support our suggestions for classroom or instructional needs. (Note to parents: I learned NEVER to advocate as something only my child needed...a sure way to get shot down. Instead Ilearned the language of  "this could help the whole classroom learn better." Or..."this suggestion could help all the children understand the concept better."). I didn't shy away from saying I'd put in parent volunteer time, either.  My chosen location: the study library - an hour or two a week. As a working mom, I knew those hours were more beneficial to my kids than lunch out and it let my daughter see that I supported her perseverance.

Not all the issues we confronted were connected; sometimes we had three things going at once. We'd try to figure out what was going on and which issue to address first. Usually the safety things came first. Sometimes those we consulted didn't agree. Or because of the IEP, we found that the school could only provide support for a secondary issue because that's where the funding is these days. We kept plugging away. But here's the thing we can loose sight of while trying to get our kids the help they need. We're the experts – the ones who know our kids better than anyone else with initials behind their names. If you think something isn't right...change something, pursue answers, persist. Don't wait, because our kids surely don't.

So as we bring you the third of the three things that every adoptive parents needs to practice...for the days when it all just seems to be too much....just remember. Its' 1...2...3... love them, stop helicoptering and get them the help they need to reach their potential.

Here's to a successful school year for all our FRUA children,

Jan Wondra
Vice Chair
National Board of Directors
Families for Russian and Ukrainian Adoption

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