Parents as Partners Workshop Series

The Parents as Partners workshops series is targeted at families of children with
special needs who will be starting Kindergarten or are already enrolled
in Kindergarten programs. The workshops:

  • Help families to plan the transition to school
  • Provide parents with information on school services in their region
  • Help parents to develop the skills they need to be effective partners with school staff

The workshops feature various presenters and are designed to be fun and
interactive. Parents are provided tips on keeping records, making phone
calls and attending meetings about their child. There are also be
hands-on activities which help parents prepare for school meetings and
provide the opportunity to meet with other parents and share
experiences.

This project includes families of children who are receiving services from
various Early Years programs, including Preschool Speech and Language
Services, Infant Hearing Screening Program, Early Intervention
Services, the Association for Community Living and many others. Many of
the sessions are also be helpful to families of children who are
already enrolled in JK and SK and need special education programs and
services.

Parents
as Partners
began as a project championed and successfully
proposed to
the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services to be run as a
3-year project under the Ontario Early Years Challenge Fund in
September 2004.

Alison
Morse and Rhonda Jacobson, both parents of children with disabilities
and active members of community groups, felt strongly about the gaps in
resources and information for families of children with special needs
who were entering the school system.

Together,
they put together a proposal to the Ontario Early Years Challenge Fund
to develop and present the Parents
as Partners
workshop series in York
Region and Oxford County, sponsored by the Ontario
Association for Families of Communication Disorders
(OAFCCD)
and Expressive
Communication Help Organization
(ECHO) in their
respective communities. They received funding for the project for 3
years.

These
programs were incredibly successful, often filling sessions and
attracting families from other Ontario locations. So Alison and Rhonda
decided to write a funding proposal to the Ontario Trillium
Foundation
(OTF),
to try and get the project to as many communities in Ontario as
possible.

The funding proposal
to OTF was successful, and in November 2006, the OAFCCD Parents as Partners
program was launched to
develop and deliver the workshops in an additional 18 communities in
Ontario.

Alison
and Rhonda continue to be active in the implementation of the OAFCCD
Parents as Partners
project, along with Community
Facilitators Sally
Facchini
and Jacqueline
Dorrsers
.

OAFCCD Parents as Partners offers a series of up to six different workshops to communities. These parent workshops are designed to help families of children with special needs make a smooth transition from preschool programs to Junior or Senior Kindergarten.

The workshops feature information on school and community services, and fun activities that will help parents prepare for an effective partnership with school staff.

Workshop One:

Getting Ready for School: Planning for Kindergarten

This workshop is for families who are thinking of registering their child for school in September. The workshop provides information on when to start the process and what will be involved. The workshop activities will help parents to organize information about their child, and get ready for the meetings where they will be talking about your child.

Workshop Two:

Strategies for Effective Partnerships: Communicating for Success

This workshop is for any parent of a child with special needs who is attending school or getting ready to start school. The workshop provides some great tips and strategies to help develop positive relationships with school staff. The fun activities will help to improve negotiation and problem solving skills.

Workshop Three:

The Kindergarten Program: Supporting Students with Special Needs

This workshop provides parents with information about the Kindergarten program and the daily activities of a Junior Kindergarten (JK) or Senior Kindergarten (SK) classroom. Parent’s will meet a Kindergarten Teacher and find out how the teacher adjusts the activities to meet the individual needs of all the children. Parents will also learn how the teacher determines the need for special education programs and services.

Workshop Four:

Special Education: Understanding the Process and the Parent Role

This workshop provides parents with an introduction to special education in Ontario schools. Parents will learn some of the special education language “jargon” used by Teachers and Principals and how the school system supports students with special education needs. Workshop activities will help parents to understand their rights in special education and their role in working with the school to support their child’s needs.

Workshop Five, Part 1:

The Individual Education Plan (IEP):Introduction to the IEP and Parent Role

The Individual Education Plan (IEP) is the most important document for students with special education needs. This workshop provides information about the purpose of the IEP and the process for development and review of the IEP. Workshop activities will help parents to understand how the IEP helps students and how they can support the school in the development and monitoring of the IEP.

Workshop Five, Part 2:

The Individual Education Plan: Developing Effective IEPs for Student Success

This workshop looks at the content of the Individual Education Plan (IEP) in more detail and helps parents to understand the language and terminology used in the IEP. Parents will also learn how to share information about their child to support the IEP development and improve student achievement at school.

Who Should Attend The Workshops?

Parents can attend individual workshops or the whole series. The series is intended for parents of children with special needs who are likely to need special education programs and services at school. The workshop series will support the growth of parent knowledge and skills over the period of time from when they start planning for their child to attend school until the child is entering first grade.

November 2007

How to Make your own Parent Resource Binder

As part of the Parents as Partners project, we have developed a resource binder to be used to help you to collect and file records related to your child’s education. Having one place to collect all information makes it simple to keep things organized and have required information at your fingertips. While you will receive a copy of our binder when you attend one of our workshops you can also choose to build your own using the information contained in this document.

Helping Parents of Young Children with Special Needs to Develop Effective
Partnerships with Schools

Parent Resources

Parents as Partners Fact Sheets

Getting Ready for
Kindergarten

This
Fact Sheet from the OAFCCD Parents as Partners Workshop 1, Getting
Ready for Kindergarten, outlines the process for parents who will be
registering
their special needs child for Junior of Senior Kindergarten this
September.

Communication
Strategies for Effective Partnership

This
Fact Sheet from OAFCCD Parents as Partners Workshop 2, Communicating
for
Success: Strategies for Effective Partnership, provides tips and
strategies
that parents can use to develop and maintain positive relationships
with school
staff.

The Kindergarten
Program and Students with Special Needs

This Fact Sheet, from OAFCCD
Parents as Partners Workshop 3, The Kindergarten Program:
Supporting Students
with Special Needs, provides information on how the Kindergarten
program and how
you can get your child ready to start school.

Frequently Asked
Questions about the Individual Education Plan (IEP)

This Fact Sheet, from OAFCCD
Parents as Partners Workshop 4, Special Education: Understanding the
Process and the Parent Role, answers parent’s questions
about the Individual Education Plan, what it is, who needs one how it
is
developed.

Hot Tips For Effective Communication

This Fact Sheet, from OAFCCD
Parents as Partners Workshop 2, Communicating for Success: Strategies
for
Effective Partnership identifies the benefits of two way communication
between home and school and some ideas on how you can strengthen the
relationship.

Hot Tips on
Preparing for a Meeting

This Fact Sheet, from OAFCCD
Parents as Partners Workshop 2, Communicating for Success: Strategies
for
Effective Partnership identifies what you need to know as you prepare
for a
meeting with school staff.

Hot Tips for a Great Meeting

This Fact Sheet, from OAFCCD Parents as
Partners Workshop 2, Communicating for Success: Strategies for
Effective
Partnership identifies provides tips for effective meetings.

Problem Solving Model

This Fact Sheet, from OAFCCD Parents as
Partners Workshop 2, Communicating for Success: Strategies for
Effective
Partnership outlines a process that can be used by two or more people
who
are working together to solve a problem.
The model emphasises the importance of brainstorming solutions, and
developing an action plan with time lines and accountability.

Frequently Asked Questions
about Sharing Information

The Fact
Sheet answers the questions that parents have about why they need to
share
information about their child and how they can ensure that the right
people
have the information they need to help your child. This Fact Sheet
supports activities from OAFCCD
Parents as Partners Workshops 1 to 4.

Differentiated Teaching Strategies

This Fact Sheet from OAFCCD
Parents as Partners Workshop 5, The Individual Education
Plan (IEP): Introduction to the IEP and the Parent Role, provides
examples
of differentiated instruction or teaching strategies that can be used
to
support students with special needs in Kindergarten.

How to Make your own Parent Resource Binder

As part of the Parents as Partners project, we have developed a
resource binder to be used to help you to collect and file records related to
your child’s education.  Having
one place
to collect all information makes it simple to keep things organized and
have
required information at your fingertips. While you will receive a copy
of our binder when you attend one of our workshops you can also choose
to build your own using the information contained in this
document.

All About Me Information Booklet

 

 

Ministry of Education Documents

The
following
documents will be of interest to families of children with special
needs who
are entering or enrolled in the publicly funded school
system.
This is not a comprehensive list but a
selection of resources that the Ministry of Education has available for
families on the Website at: www.edu.gov.on.ca

Regulations
of the Education
Act:

Regulation
181/98 of The Education Ac
t, for Identification And Placement of
Exceptional Pupils
– This Regulation provides the legal definitions of the terms
and
expressions used in the Identification and Placement Review Committee
(IPRC)
Process.  The Regulation lays out the
timelines for the IPRC and Appeal Process.

Regulation
464/97 of the Education Act
, for the Establishment of Special Education
Advisory Committees – This regulation provides the
legal definitions for the membership and activities of the Special
Education
Advisory Committees (SEAC).  Every school
board must have a SEAC and members provide advice to the Trustees and
Administration regarding Special Education Programs and Services and
associated
budget.

Resource Guides:

The
Individual Education Plan (IEP) A Resource Guide
(2004)
– This guide has been prepared to assist boards and schools as
they
implement the requirements for IEPs that are set out in Regulation
181/98.  This guide contains advice and tips that are
intended to help teachers and others working with exceptional pupils to
develop,
implement, and monitor high-quality IEPs. A five-step process, based on
a team
approach, is recommended. Suggestions and sample forms are provided,
but
teachers may adapt or modify them to suit individual circumstances.

The Ontario Student
Record (OSR) Guideline (2000)
– The Ontario Student Record (OSR) is the
record
of a student’s educational progress through schools in
Ontario. The Education Act requires that the
principal of a school collect information “for inclusion in a
record in respect
of each pupil enrolled in the school and to establish, maintain,
retain,
transfer and dispose of the record”. The act also regulates
access to an OSR
and states that the OSR is “privileged for the information
and use of
supervisory officers and the principal and teachers of the school for
the improvement
of instruction” of the student. Each student and the
parent(s)1 of a student
who is not an adult (that is, a student who is under the age of
eighteen) must
be made aware of the purpose and content of, and have access to, all of
the
information contained in the OSR.

Planning
Entry to School, A Resource Guide (2005)
– This document is
designed for use by school staff, parents and
community agencies.  Useful contents
include:

  • Chart
    “Planning Entry to School: Roles and
    Responsibilities”, with
    suggestions of the extra steps requires for students with special needs.
  • Appendix A includes
    copies of 17 resources developed by different
    school boards to assist with transition to school
  • Appendix C provides
    an overview of the Research on the importance of
    planning entry to school

Shared
Solutions, A Guide to Preventing and Resolving
Conflicts Regarding Programs and Services for Students With Special
Education
Needs (2007)
– This document, released in September
2007, provides information on Special education, Understanding
Conflict,
Preventing Conflicts, Resolving Conflicts, and Collaborative approaches
to
Resolving Conflicts.  The guide has been
developed following consultation with parents, community organizations
and
staff from various levels of the school systems.  The Guide
emphasizes the importance of
communication in preventing and resolving conflicts

Transition
Planning, A Resource Guide (2002)
– This guide presents
a range of suggestions from which educators may select ideas that would
be
useful in their particular local context. It is not expected that every
suggestion outlined here will be appropriate to or incorporated in
every school
board’s3 or school’s transition-planning process.
This guide sets out no new
policy requirements; rather, it provides detailed examples of steps for
implementing the policy, in order to assist all those involved in the
transition-planning process.

The Ontario Curriculum Unit Planner, Special Education Campanion (2002) is a Ministry of Edcuation resource for teachers. The document is
organized by Exceptionality. For each exceptionality information is
provided on the following:

    1. Characteristics of students with the exceptionality

    2. Teaching Strategies and Suggestions

    3. Speciific Skill Strategies

    4. Assessment Accommodations

Program
Standards:

Individual
Education Plans Standards
for Development, Program Planning, and Implementation (2000)

– This document describes the province-wide
standards that school boards must meet when developing, implementing,
and
monitoring Individual Education Plans (IEPs) for exceptional students,
in
accordance with Regulation 181/98 of the Education Act, and for
students not
identified as exceptional who are receiving a special education program
and
services.

Standards
for School Boards’ Special Education Plans
(2000)
– This document describes the province-wide standards that
school boards
must meet when developing their special education plans.  Each
board is required to maintain a special
education plan, to review it annually, to amend it from time to time to
meet
the current needs of its exceptional students, and to submit any
amendment(s)
to the Minister for review.

Expert Panel
Reports:

Education for All, The Report of the Expert Panel
on Literacy and Numeracy Instruction for Students With Special
Education Needs,
Kindergarten to Grade 6 (2005)
  – The Ministry of Education
established
the Expert Panel on Literacy and Numeracy Instruction for Students With
Special
Education Needs to recommend practices, based on research, that would
allow
Ontario’s teachers to improve and reinforce effective
instruction of reading,
writing, oral communication, and mathematics to students from
Kindergarten to
Grade 6 who have special education needs.
The Expert Panel has taken an inclusive, non-categorical –
rather than
exceptionality-based – approach to address programming for
students with special
education needs. This report has been written to assist teachers in
helping all
of Ontario’s
students learn, including those students whose abilities make it
difficult for
them to achieve their grade-level expectations.

Special
Education Transformation, The report of the Co-Chairs with
the Recommendations of the Working Table on Special Education (2006)
– This
report submits Recommendations to the Ministry of Education for the
transformation of Special Education.  “In a
transformed system, special education
programs and services would support a learning environment that enables
students to acquire, demonstrate, and apply the knowledge and skills
necessary
to maximize their potential for success in school and beyond. Based on
their
individual learning needs and abilities, all students would receive
supports in
schools that foster a culture of commitment to
achievement.”
Many of the Recommendations are informing the
direction of current policy in Special Education.

Making a Difference,
For
Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Ontario Schools, From
Evidence to
Action, Report of the Ministers’ Reference Group on Autism
Spectrum Disorders
to: Minister of Education and Minister of Children and Youth Services,
(2007)
 – This document provides an overview of
Ministry efforts to address the needs of students with Autism
Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and
developed a Vision and Guiding Principals that are reflected in the
Recommendations they made to both Ministries. Additional
discussions
focused on a variety of key topics such as the importance of parental
involvement in all phases of programming, the expertise of
professionals in the
creation of the Individual Education Plan (IEP), and the need for
professional
development and training of staff working with students with ASD.

Additional
Resources:

Helping
Your Child Learn to Read, A Parent’s Guide
(2001)
– This guide contains tips that parents (and caregivers) can use
to
encourage their young children to read and to love reading. It will be
most
useful for parents of young children who are just beginning to read.

Helping
Your Child Learn Math, A Parent’s Guide (2002)
– This guide
suggests
simple activities that you, as a parent,* can do with your young child
to
explore math at home. It will be most useful for parents of children in
Junior
Kindergarten through Grade 3.

Me
Read? No Way!
A practical guide to improving boys’ literacy skills (2004)

This
guide offers a rich source of practices and strategies that are being
used in
successful literacy programs for boys around the world and that
educators in
Ontario can draw on to create a stimulating and engaging learning
environment
for both boys and girls. In this guide, you will find:

  • supports,
    information, tips, and ideas conveniently organized into
    distinct categories;
  • a wide variety of
    sources that you can refer to for more in-depth
    exploration of particular concepts or topics.

Other Useful Resources

 

Connectability

A virtual community for families and professionals who support children
with special needs.  This website includes “neigbourhoods” with
resources on   Learning Together, Supported Inclusion ,
Skills for Success and Starting School.  The online resources
include Parent Tips,  Kids Pages and a Visual Engine to create
personal schedules and visual reminders. Access to the Website is free
but for safety reasons it is a password protected site.  On your
first visit you can take a tour of the site and then you can
join.  A password and activation code will be provided in about a
week.

 

Parent
Techniques to Promote Literacy Development

Activity 1 – Let Your Child Be
the Leader

Activity 2 – Point to Print and
Talk About Print

Activity 3 – Ask Children to
Predict What Will Happen

Activity 4 – Ask Questions
About Print

Activity 5 – Talk About the
Alphabet and Letters

Activity 6  – Talk About Rhyming Words

Activity 7 – Ask Child What
Happened in the Story

Activity 8 – Have the Child
fill in Words or “read” to You

Communicating for Fun: Parent and Child
Activity Calendars to Promote Better Speech, Language and Hearing

  1. Twenty Weekly Calendars for Toddlers
  2. Twenty Weekly Calendars for Preschool Age Children
  3. Twenty Weekly Calendars for Kindergarten Age Children

Parent Support Groups

Association for Bright Children (ABC)

Ontario Association for Families of Children with Communication Disorders (OAFCCD)

Expressive Communication Help Organization

VOICE for Hearing Impaired Children

Easter Seals Society

Ontario March of Dimes

CNIB

Autism Ontario

Learning Disabilities Association Ontario (LDAO)

Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association

Community Living Ontario

The Down Syndrome Association of Ontario (DSAO)

Epilepsy Ontario

 If
you are interested in bringing Parents as Partners to your community
please contact
Alison Morse
at OAFCCD