Getting back into the groove of school isn’t always easy, but you can make a smoother transition from summer to the classroom with Reading Rocket’s Top 8 Back-to-School Tips for Parents of Children with Special Needs (as reprinted in ENABLE Special Needs Planning):
1. Organize All That Paperwork – In the world of special education, there are lots of meetings, paperwork, and documentation. Try to keep a family calendar of school events, special education meetings, conferences, etc. A binder or folder can help you keep your child’s special education documentation, meeting notices, and IEPs in order so you can stay organized.
2. Start A Communication Log – Keeping track of all phone calls, e-mails, notes home, meetings, and conferences is important. Create a “communication log” for yourself in a notebook. Be sure to note the dates, times, and nature of the communications you have.
3. Review Your Child’s IEP – The IEP is the cornerstone of your child’s educational program, so it’s important that you understand it. Note when the IEP expires and if your child is up for re-evaluation this year. Most important, be sure that this IEP still “fits” your child’s needs. If you’re unsure, contact the school about holding an IEP review meeting.
4. Relieve Back-To-School Jitters – Just talking about the upcoming year and changes can help reduce that back-to-school anxiety! Talk to your child about exciting new classes, activities, and events they can participate in during the new school year. If attending a new school, try to schedule a visit before the first day. With older students, it is sometimes helpful to explain the services and accommodations in their IEP so that they know what to expect when school begins.
5. Keep Everyone Informed – It’s important that you and the school communicate early and often! If there is anything (concerns, changes, questions about the IEP) that you feel is important to share with the staff working with your child, don’t hesitate to contact them! The more proactive and honest you are, the better the school staff will be able to meet your child’s needs.
6. Establish Before- And After-School Routines – Discuss the changes in you and your child’s daily routine that will happen once school starts. You can even practice your new schedule, focusing on morning and evening routines.
7. Stay Up-To-Date On Special Education News – Being knowledgeable about your child’s IEP and their disability can help you become a better advocate for your child. Try to keep up-to-date on special education legislation, news, and events. The more you know, the more prepared you will be to successfully advocate for your child!
8. Attend School Events – Take advantage of Open House, Back-to-School Night, and parent-teacher conferences to help you and your child get a feel for the school and meet the teachers, other staff, students, and families. Share the positives about working with your child, and let the teacher know about changes, events, or IEP concerns that should be considered for children in special education.
For more help on other resources available to you, please contact Noble.