Summer reading ... for parents

How long has it been since you had a summer reading list? While it's tempting to take a few months off from the rigors of the special education world, the longer days of summer are a great time to dive into all those issues you've been wrestling with during the school year. Here are a few books (nothing too heavy!) to check out. They'll help you step back, learn some new skills, and maybe even strengthen your marriage. Not a bad way to spend the summer!

By Valle Dwight

Writing Measurable IEP Goals and Objectives

Writing Measurable IEP Goals and Objectives

Writing Measurable IEP Goals and Objectives
by Barbara Bateman and Cynthia M. Herr
Attainment Company Inc. (2006, updated edition), $25

Go look at your child’s IEP. Is there a goal in there that says something like “Johnny will improve his reading”? That’s just the kind of goal this book seeks to eradicate. Because it’s not measurable, it’s essentially meaningless. This book explains in simple terms what a measurable goal is and how to write one. It gives examples, but its strength is in illustrating a measurable goal. For the reading one, a better objective might be “Johnny will orally read from a third-grade basal passage at an average rate of at least 70 words per minute with four or fewer errors.”

If you as a parent understand measurable goals, you can insist that the team start using them. Suddenly your child’s IEP will be a much more valuable document.

Teaching Math to People With Down Syndrome and Other Hands-On Learners

Teaching Math to People With Down Syndrome and Other Hands-On Learners (books 1 and 2)
by DeAnna Horstmeier
Woodbine House (2004, 2008), $16.47

If your child struggles with math facts, number recognition, and other basic skills, check out the first book for some great things you can do at home. Teaching Math offers games and activities that appeal to concrete learners, and not just those with Down syndrome. The second book covers more-advanced skills such as multiplication, budgeting, and banking skills.

Late, Lost, and Unprepared

Late, Lost, and Unprepared: A Parents' Guide to Helping Children With Executive Functioning
by Joyce Cooper-Hahn and Laurie Dietzel
Woodbine House (2008), $19.95

If your child has a disability that affects his or her executive functioning, the title of this book probably resonates with you. Late, Lost, and Unprepared aims to help parents develop processes that will help their kids learn to manage their lives. The book goes beyond teaching basic skills to handle daily living — it explains the need to teach strategies that will allow kids to become independent adults. Packed with tips and anecdotes, this book is an easy and practical read.

Married With Special-Needs Children: A Couples' Guide to Keeping Connected

Married with Special-Needs Children: A Couples' Guide to Keeping Connected
by Laura E. Marshak and Fran P. Prezant
Woodbine House (2007), $16.50

Having a child with special needs can strain the best of relationships, but it doesn’t have to be the death of them. The energy and focus you put on your child may take away from other relationships — or leave both parents drained, frustrated, and exhausted. The authors (one's a counselor) offer strategies for keeping that strong bond with your spouse, and the book is sprinkled with quotes of couples who have been there, done that.

Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy

Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, Second Edition
by Pam Wright and Pete Wright
Harbor House Law Press Inc. (2006), $9.60

Advocating for your child can be a tough battle because this is your child you’re fighting for. Emotions are an inherent part of the battle, but they can also work against you. This book is loaded with strategies to help parents move past their emotions to tackle the situation in an organized and effective way. Read this how-to, and get all the tools you need to help build the best education program for your kid.

Valle Dwight is a reporter, writer, and mother of two school-aged boys. She has written for many magazines, including FamilyFun, Wondertime, and Working Mother.