Usually, the first step to obtain an individualized education program (IEP) for a child is for the child to attend an evaluation. Under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), parents have a right to obtain an evaluation for their child at no cost to them to determine if their child would benefit from special education services.
In the long run, the IEP could be in the best interests of the child’s education. However, the prospect of an evaluation – just like any other test – can often cause children stress. So, what can parents do to reduce that stress?
Understand what to expect from the evaluation
Taking time to know what the evaluation will involve can help the whole family feel less stressed as they approach it.
Whether the school or an independent evaluator conducts the evaluation, it will consist of the same tests. These tests should be catered to the child’s individual needs to assess the challenges they face. For example, if parents believe their child shows signs of dyslexia and ADHD, the evaluation will focus on those particular challenges. Therefore, the tests might assess reading, writing, comprehension and other skills.
An appropriate and thorough evaluation should involve a variety of tests to understand:
- The child’s educational needs; and
- How to meet those needs.
It may help parents to research the specific tests set for their child. They can also reach out to the school or independent evaluator to learn more and help put their child at ease. If both parents and their children understand what the evaluation will involve, they can eliminate the fear of the unknown about the evaluation itself.
Listen to the child’s concerns, and instill confidence
The idea of an evaluation can be very nerve-wracking for any child. So, how can parents help to ease their child’s concerns? It can help to:
- Have an honest conversation about what the evaluation is for, and what they can expect;
- Ask them what they are worried about and discuss how to overcome those worries; and
- Help them prepare for the academic tests and reassure them about their abilities.
Every child is different, but parents know their children best. Parents should simply make sure their child feels supported as they move forward with the evaluation for their future in education.