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Tiffany
07-03-2012, 11:01 PM
Hi Ladies,
This is going to be our third year of homeschooling (I can't believe it but I know it is true). I am considering joining a co-op. It is once a week for 3 1/2 hours. I am nervous about doing this, mainly because I don't know if it will work for my boys and if they will be a behavior problem. I'm sure some issues will come up, but I feel like it is a good opportunity for them to make some growth in this area and that they would really enjoy it. If it is the right fit. I think you know what I mean, having kids who are not in the typical mold and don't respond to typical discipline and think differently. I am not sure how to handle their issues. Do I just sign them up, and then discuss with the teachers at the orientation? Do I ask if they "take special needs kids"? Do I explain all of my kids' issues before I sign up? I just am not sure. And I get super sensitive about all of this, just wanting my kids to be normal and get a chance to be normal kids, without feeling like I have to dissect and explain them to everyone... yet I do need to explain. And I know that sometimes we meet with those who are less than understanding and then that makes it hard for all of us. I want to take this risk but I'm nervous. Does this make sense? Any suggestions? Btw, my children all are involved at our church and at our YMCA. At church they know our kids' issues, but at the YMCA they don't and they have done just fine in a variety of things over 2 years. So part of me wants to just sign up and see how it goes, and let the teachers know that I am available if any problems come up. I am just not sure what the right way to handle this is.

Laura F
07-04-2012, 12:08 AM
I don't know what specific problems/disabilities you're dealing with, but my gut tells me that you need to be honest with the leadership of your co-op. If it's a learning disability and your kids are taking academic classes, then the teachers would want to know how to modify for your kids to be successful. If it's a behavior/developmental issue, it seems fair to me to let the teachers know. Does your co-op have an application process? I'm asking because our co-op paperwork asks us to list any medical/learning/special needs. I always list my dds medical/attention issues, and it hasn't been a problem for us.

AmyinWI
07-04-2012, 12:19 AM
I have been involved in a co-op for the past several years. If I were you, I would speak with leadership privately to find out if they can/will acommodate. I dont 't know what kind of issues you are dealing with but hopefully they will be understanding.
I know our co-op leaders have been great,and when we fill out the forms, I list a general "special needs" description. Most of them know my son has autism and down syndrome, pretty obvious. But I also list dietary /safety issues to make sure they are aware. Most parents just are not intune to things like that.

For my 2 with ADHD /learning differences, I have found their teachers did not even notice a difference in them compared to other students, so I have stopped listing their "special needs" on the forms. For the most part, they fit in perfectly fine and no special acommodations are needed.

Jill in Monrovia
07-05-2012, 12:21 PM
I would say to talk. I've led some things where the parents refused to put down food allergies!!! I asked once due to having a new girl visit and the child who had been with us all year still didn't mention the food allergy. Of course, that was what we were using. She threw up.

I think most people who are working with kids want it to go well. If you keep them in the dark, it can't always go well.

Jill in Monrovia

Tiffany
07-05-2012, 03:34 PM
Thank you for the replies. I wasn't planning on not informing the leaders, I just am not sure quite how to approach it and how much detail to go into, since I have the tendency to over-explain. :) Especially since my oldest child's history is long and complex and he has multiple medical/developmental needs that seem very overwhelming if I were to explain them but less overwhelming when they see my real child in front of them, if that makes sense. There is not a question about special needs on the application form, so I am debating about whether to basically ask whether my children are welcome before I sign up, or rather to sign up and discuss the concerns with the teachers of the classes at the orientation. I am willing to be on site/nearby in case any issues arise, and to help out more frequently in the rotation for the parents. I am sensitive to not wanting to be a burden and request special treatment for my children, yet I want them to have this opportunity and I think they are ready for it. I at least want to try.

Alice R
07-08-2012, 06:00 PM
Not a special needs mom (although my baby has serious allergies). But since this is my field...moms often unload on me. :lol:

I don't think using the names of things like "oh, my son is moderately dyslexic with some processing issues and has sensory dysfunction" is not helpful at all to people. :no:

I would simply stick with "my son has some special needs and he has a very hard time sitting. I wanted to make you aware so you don't think he is being disrespectul but rather just needs to move sometimes. If it's any sort of an issue at any time in your lesson, please come get me. I'm really good at handling him and getting him to calm down. I really think he is ready to try this co-op class and I'm hoping for good things but if it's too hard, then we will address it"

Names, titles, dx-es and all that mean nothing to most people. They just want to hear "oh, she sometimes flaps her hands when upset so if she starts flapping, I'm supposed to get her mother" ;)

Esther-Alabama
07-08-2012, 06:37 PM
I tell people that my oldest ds has dyslexia and dysgraphia. He uses a computer to write, audiobooks to read and will need oral tests to do his best.

My biggest problem is explaining to folks about my middle ds. He is so academically advanced, so very bright, yet emotionally immature and has odd behaviors. He's quirky. He has odd behaviors, but if I list them all to someone then that person might have trouble "seeing" my son, kwim? It's hard.

So, I usually say he has trouble with transitions, needs warnings, needs to know the plan, and if he begins to get really upset, he probably needs to eat!

HTH.

Alice R
07-08-2012, 07:05 PM
Exactly...what behaviors does your son have that will pop up in class? Address those and forget the others.

Hollie in SC
07-08-2012, 07:42 PM
I was going to suggest something like Alice did. Focus on the classroom issues that you are concerned about. :)

My son ____ has some special needs issues. Because of those challenges, the teacher might see ___________ issues. I can share ideas to help work with him and am willing to continue to work with the teacher to help make the class the best experience possible for both of them. :D

If it is easier for you, you could list the issues with some suggestions on dealing with them if they come up.

That has generally been our approach for church classes and such with Noah.

:group:

Cori
07-08-2012, 08:55 PM
I agree with the advice you were given. :) As a teacher/leader, I would want to know what it looks like when something is happening and what to do.

Now that my son has some new labels, I'm going to ask that he be allowed to pass on reading aloud if he is reluctant. I haven't signed him up for anything with reading and writing requirements (yet), but now I feel like he will be accommodated.

I've also said that if his personality changes and he starts to wind up, then he needs a snack. (he has a strange laugh when he's winding up) In the past, I've told caregivers that he will start to act up if they feed him chocolate milk or anything with red dye. He's outgrown that, thankfully.

Keep it simple. Good teachers/leaders will have multiple strategies in their bag of tricks. ;) And you don't really want him in the class if the teacher isn't versatile.

ETA: I like that cartoon that says, "How do you know I have a learning disability? How do you know you don't have a teaching disability." :D

AmyinWI
07-09-2012, 12:42 AM
Not a special needs mom (although my baby has serious allergies). But since this is my field...moms often unload on me. :lol:

I don't think using the names of things like "oh, my son is moderately dyslexic with some processing issues and has sensory dysfunction" is not helpful at all to people. :no:


Names, titles, dx-es and all that mean nothing to most people. They just want to hear "oh, she sometimes flaps her hands when upset so if she starts flapping, I'm supposed to get her mother" ;)
Very good advice Alice!
I often over-explain also, and tend to forget that most people don't get the special needs/medical lingo and I usually end up getting blank stares.

LillianD
07-09-2012, 12:03 PM
Exactly...what behaviors does your son have that will pop up in class? Address those and forget the others.

I agree with this, its a need to know thing. In my co-op, there were plenty of kids with all sorts of varying special needs, I will say, most teachers were pretty understanding. Just keep in mind though, these are not usually trained teachers, so some are ill equipped to handle special needs. I pulled my son from a class because he is severely dyslexic and couldn't really do the written tests the teacher gave at the beginning of every class, the teacher told me "well, I have an autistic kid in my class who can do it" which obviously is a totally different thing. Don't be shy about offering to be a teacher's helper or even just staying in class so that you can be there if it's something you think the teacher couldn't handle on their own.

Jodi B
07-09-2012, 01:20 PM
I wasn't planning on not informing the leaders, I just am not sure quite how to approach it and how much detail to go into, since I have the tendency to over-explain. :)

Not a SN mom either, but I saw this title and was intrigued.

As someone who has taught SS and LOGOS in the past, I would appreciate some specifics to look out for, what may trigger something in your ds, so I can better prepare and make accommodations as needed.

So instead of saying he has xyz, instead frame it as something like, he generally develops issues if he (and I'm just using general examples here, not specific to your situation):

* has to sit for long periods of time
* does complex projects which frustrate him easily
* has to do a lot of reading
* is put under pressure to perform

And then give suggestions of what can be done to diffuse the situation, including getting you (give your cell# so you can be quickly reached).

What has been frustrating to me from past experiences are things like kids on ADD/ADHD meds where the parents give them weekends off (and don't tell me) :eek1: :angry: or they don't tell me at all, downplay it or refuse to be a part of the solution (no help). :unsure:

Tiffany
07-09-2012, 08:21 PM
I just wanted to thank all of you ladies for taking the time to respond. All of the advice each one of you gave is really helpful to me, and I will be thinking about what to say and how to word it so that it is clear and specific to his classroom behaviors/learning issues. :group: I was a classroom teacher myself (before I took this new gig of motherhood and now homeschooling) and as a teacher I was more than willing to meet each child where they are. I just pray that I have teachers who will do this for mine.
Oh, and Cori, I LOVE that quote-thank you so much for adding it.

Rebe
07-10-2012, 10:31 AM
Thank you for asking this! I was coming here to ask a very similar question. This is really helpful to me.

I'm trying to NOT regret not knowing any of this with my firstborn. :( Just trying to do the right thing this time around.

shalomew
07-11-2012, 10:09 PM
disclosure...I am not a special needs Mom.

I will give you a slightly different side.

I think another thing to consider is the age of the child and the age of the other kids in the class, as well as how big the classes are.

I was the coordinator of a parent led class at our co-op for 2 years. It was a "story/circle" time class for kids age 3-5. We met each week and there were 8-10 kids in the class. We had a child in that class that had challenges- attention, social etc.. We were not told of his challenges although he had a "helper" or a parent in the class with him. The parent was there to deal with him when things happened so the teacher didn't have to stop and address it but it was still a disaster for the other kids in the class. That younger age bracket just has a much harder time dealing/recovering from distractions presented by another child. They can't help but look at or focus on what that child is doing especially if it physical or vocal. They weren't judgmental of the other child it was just too much of a distraction for them to handle at that age. We had several people that wanted refunds for their kids tuition to this class and some that just quit bringing their kids. He was in other classes that were paid professional teacher taught and it was a similar situation in them also. It was just hard for everyone.

I think the older kids get the better they can deal with distracting behaviors of other kids.

If you are able to sit in on the first couple of classes (in the back of the room) with your son to see how everything goes I think that would be helpful for your child, the teacher and the other kids. If an issue comes you are right there to help if needed or the teacher can see how you handle it.

also adding that some of the paid teachers in our co-op did not come from a traditional teaching background. Our art teacher who was great, for example, was a professional artist that came by teaching to the homeschool community in a round about way. SO not all teachers might have the "training" or experience to deal with special needs kids and might need some tips and tricks to deal with your particular child's challenges and quirks.

Co-ops are all set up so different and have different goals and capabilities. Hopefully, you can find a spot where your kids can thrive!

Hollie in SC
07-12-2012, 09:34 AM
I just wanted to thank all of you ladies for taking the time to respond. All of the advice each one of you gave is really helpful to me, and I will be thinking about what to say and how to word it so that it is clear and specific to his classroom behaviors/learning issues. :group: I was a classroom teacher myself (before I took this new gig of motherhood and now homeschooling) and as a teacher I was more than willing to meet each child where they are. I just pray that I have teachers who will do this for mine.
Oh, and Cori, I LOVE that quote-thank you so much for adding it.

Tiffany, you are a super mom and you do a great job with your kids. :D I know you will go in with a spirit of cooperation. That goes so far!

I know that new steps are a huge challenge for me. Things that took only a little thought with my typical kids can now feel like a mountain to conquer. Just working out details and stuff can sometimes make the introvert in me want to run. I've been helping out with a co-op this past year and it has been so great to get back into one. They've been great to help me work things out. It was so hard for me to go and introduce myself and then ask for help with things, but these ladies have been wonderful and co-op was a fabulous experience for us last year because of the hearts of the women there.

I know every once in a while you can run into places where our kids aren't received well or where there are a lot of rules and it just doesn't work out. I pray that isn't the situation because it is hard on a mom's heart, but if you do run across one like that then I want to encourage you to look somewhere else. :yes: There are SO MANY different co-ops in our area. I'm sure you can find a good fit somewhere. :yes: :group:

Keep us updated, okay? :group:

normafl
07-14-2012, 08:42 AM
I used to tell everyone what my kids have and have discovered that it doesnt help or it scares them unnecesarily.

I have an ADHD child and aspergers both with dyslexia and assorted stuff and we have been in many co-ops and now I ask the teachers how they are going to run the class. Do they need to look stuff up, do they need to take notes, answer questions on the spot, get there hands dirty... Whatever..Then I decide what Im going to say.

So for my ADHD child who needs a break from sitting I say "she needs to check in with me for reassurance" This gives her a chance to get up and move and me a chance to ask her how she is doing feeling etc..It gives her a break. I have never had a teacher tell me she cant come see me only that she needs to let her know she is leaving the classroom.

Sometimes for my Aspie Ive just said she is very shy please dont call on her to read or draw any attention to her. On a few occasions the teachers have caught on but by now they have been around my child long enough to see that its fine and not a problem. And if it has become a problem because for example the teacher talks too fast or loud or its too confusing or something then I have pulled them out and explained the situation.

I say take a chance I bet they will do great! :kiss:

Tiffany
07-18-2012, 09:44 PM
Thank you everyone else who has stopped in to offer their advice. I appreciate it very much.
Alice, that is really good and helpful advice. Thank you.
Lillian, and shalomew, your point about the teachers possibly more trained in their subject matter than teaching children, is really helpful to think about. I think that is sad what happened in that coop shalomew. It seems that the other adult could have been helpful but I appreciate your input.
Jodi, yes that is definitely frustrating and hard to put the teacher in that position. You sound great. You can teach my child. :)
Hollie, your post made me cry. I guess you just understood what I was feeling and trying to express.
Still praying about what to do.
Thank you sincerely to all of you.