Special Education Curriculum Combined with Meaningful Parent Input
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Suzanne, CEO of Specially Designed Education Services and author of The Functional Academics Program.
As a former special education teacher myself, I was eager to hear Suzanne's insights and experiences in making special education more positive and effective for students through a structured curriculum.
Both Suzanne and I bonded over similar "first day of school" stories - entering a classroom feeling overwhelmed and not knowing where to start with our students' IEPs. We realized the power of collaborating with parents to understand their hopes and dreams for their children.
Suzanne shared how Functional Academics focuses on functional, lifelong skills that lead to greater independence. This does not mean lowering expectations, but maximizing each student's potential. As she explained, "I'm going to push that child to be as independent as possible when leaving the school system."
A key component is customizing academic materials based on parent input. For example, Functional Academics provides a suggested sight word list, but sends it home for parents to modify based on their child's needs and interests. As Suzanne said, working together with families to prioritize skills gives learning direct meaning and purpose.
Suzanne and I also agree that "functional academics" does NOT mean giving up on academics. On the contrary, it means deeply understanding each child and family so learning is meaningful.
I encourage all educators and parents to connect with Functional Academics and explore their classroom resources.