Section 1

Getting Started - Advocacy and Advocates, Master Plans, Project Managers

In "Getting Started," you will learn:

• Basic advocacy skills
• Supplies you need to get started
• How to develop a master plan for your child’s education
• How to act as your child’s special education project manager


Week 1

Chapter 1:  Learning about Advocacy

“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” –Benjamin Franklin, inventor

Your Assignment ~ Read chapter 1 (pp. 1-8)

Answer Questions

1.    What are some skills and responsibilities for a special education child advocates?

2.    What obstacles in advocacy have you encountered in your advocacy journey?  Also describe what has worked well for you along the way.

3.    As an advocate, what types of records may you wish to keep?

4.    In what situations might this come up? “If it is not written down, it was not said. If it was not said, it did not happen.”

5.    You see the supply list (on page 7) that will get you started in keeping good records. Do you currently use any systems to stay organized/keep records pertaining to your child? Please discuss any helpful systems that you use to stay on top of your advocacy work.

6.    What is the most important idea or tip that you learned from this chapter and will be able to implement right away?  


Chapter 2:  Creating Your Master Plan

“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” –John Wooden, UCLA basketball coach

Your Assignment ~ Read chapter 2 (pp. 9-16)

Answer Questions

1.    What do you want for your child? Do you already have a master plan for your child's education?

2.    If you want your child to grow up to be an independent adult, what does your child need to learn before he or she leaves the public school system (or now that the child has left the system)?

3.    It is highly recommended that you develop a master plan. A master plan has five components. Describe the five components of your child’s plan. (NOTE: Franklin Covey has an easy tool that is free, if you would like to develop a personal or family mission:  Mission Statement Builder:

a.    Vision statement – visual picture that describes your child in the future (what does your child need to be prepared for “further education, employment and independent living?” (20 U. S. C. 1400(d).) Fill in your child's vision statement here:

b.    Mission statement – a personal statement that describes the reasons you are advocating for your child, reflects your emotional commitment and passion. Fill in your child's mission statement here:

c.    Goals - provide direction and keep you focused, should include academic goals and non-academic goals (e.g., hobbies, interests, sports, fitness, friends, social, family, community). Fill in your child's goals here:

d.    Strategies – a roadmap for reaching goals. Fill in strategies for reaching goals here:

e.    Timelines - when actions need to be completed and when, commits you to action. Fill in timelines for goals here:

4.    Think about your child’s strengths, hobbies or interests or things he/she enjoys doing? Are these incorporated into your master plan?

5.    Do you think developing strengths and talents has as much of an impact on a child’s future as overcoming deficits? Explain.

6.    All children possess talents and strengths and have things they enjoy doing. What can you do to encourage your child to develop in these areas?

7.    Considering your child’s unique challenges, which organizations do you look to for information and support? Where can you go for research on your child’s disabilities?

8.    You read about the importance of learning from other parents in this chapter. List the other parent support/advocacy groups to which you belong or have thought about joining or finding out about. Describe the benefits of support groups.

9.    What is the most important idea or tip that you learned from this chapter and will be able to implement right away?


Chapter 3:  The Parent as Project Manager

“A good education is the next best thing to a pushy mother.”  --Charles Schulz, cartoonist

Your Assignment ~ Read chapter 3 (pp. 17-20)

Answer Questions

1.    Do schools make long-term or short-term plans for students? Explain your answer.

2.    Are IEPs long-term or short-term plans? Explain your answer.

3.    Can parents rely on schools to plan for a child’s education? What about after the child leaves the public school system?

4.    What does a special education project manager (parent) do? Provide details on each bullet point.

·         Learns new information

·         Masters new skills

·         Builds relationships

·         Takes care of self and family

5.    If the project manager role is fuzzy to you, what are some ways that you might learn how to strengthen organization and project management skills?

6.    How do you or will you approach learning about special education in order to learn how your child needs to be taught?

7.    Relationships are a key factor in working with others. If the relationship is bad, it is hard to get others to listen to your ideas. What are some ideas for establishing a good relationship/rapport with the IEP team?

8.    Parents can get so busy that they fail to take time for themselves and they burn out. What are some “taking care of yourself” ideas (p. 19) that you can add to your routine? You may already be doing things like this. Please share your ideas with the group.

9.    What is the most important idea or tip that you learned from this chapter and will be able to implement right away?