For our first blog post it seemed suitable to highlight the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). The Least Restrictive Environment speaks to what Placement is most appropriate for your child with special needs. The LRE should not be seen only as a location or a place. It should be seen more like an Environment – an ecosystem which thrives on several aspects. The LRE promotes inclusion HOWEVER only to a point that is most appropriate and beneficial to the child. The LRE takes into consideration the setting, the materials (curricula, adaptive equipment/software, technology), accommodations or modifications and personnel that a school or learning environment can offer.
Many schools have resource or enrichment rooms that provide additional academic support for students who require it. It is like tutoring for your child within the regular school day at school.
When you are trying to decide what placement is best for your child you need to think of ALL areas of your child’s development; academic, social, emotional and physical. You need to think about what goals you have for your child as an individual but also for you as a family. You have to be optimistic BUT honest and realistic in what goals are relevant and achievable. The LRE promotes majority of a students time in the mainstream general education classroom with the necessary supports, however not all schools have the resources or personnel to provide students with the modifications or support needed to help the student progress happily and confidently.
Remember to learn is not just to sit in a classroom and to teach is not just to speak. A lesson is like a recipe and for it to come out successfully it needs all the right ingredients. Sometimes you can get away with using substitute ingredients but it won’t taste the same, sometimes it may even taste better but that doesn’t happen ALL the time. Teaching is like making a recipe; without the right tools and ingredients you run the risk of unfavourable results, you waste time on trial and error and finding substitute tools.
Choosing the right placement for your child is like creating your own recipe; a recipe for your child’s success! Think about all the supports your child needs and think about what supports the various schools offer. Do my goals for my child and family align with what the school can offer? It’s OK if you’re a parent new to navigating the world of special needs, ask questions and even ask for help.