Six Back to School Tips for Parents of Special Needs Learners
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. Setting up a binder or folder to keep your child’s special education documentation, meeting notices, and IEPs in sequential order can also help you stay organized.
Start a communication log
It is a great idea to keep track of all phone calls, e-mails, notes home, meetings, and conferences. Create a “communication log” for yourself in a notebook that is easily accessible. Be sure to note the dates, times, and nature of the communications you have. This is also a good place to jot down any passwords and logins for communication portals your child’s school may use to keep in touch!
Review your child’s current IEP
The IEP is the cornerstone of your child’s educational program, so it’s important that you have a clear understanding of it. Note when the IEP expires and if your child is up for reevaluation this year. Most importantly, be sure that this IEP still “fits” your child’s needs! If you’re unsure, contact the school about holding an IEP review meeting.
Relieve back-to-school jitters
Just talking about the upcoming year and changes can help reduce some of that back-to-school anxiety! Talk to your child about exciting about school positively and remind them of the routines. It’s a great idea to start practicing the routine a week before school returns by resetting bedtimes and wake times, laying out clothes the night before, even practicing putting on shoes and clothes and getting out the door (maybe to the park to enjoy the last week of summer!)
Keep everyone informed
Is your child struggling in any particular area? Have there been changes in her/his life that the teacher may want to know about before day one? The more teachers and parents communicate openly, the better equipped teachers are to understand your child. Look to her/his teacher as your ally and partner together to help you child reach their goals!
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 on new special education legislation, news, and events. The more you know, the more prepared you will be to navigate the world of special education and successfully advocate for your child!
Attend school events
Take advantage of any oppprtunities to attend events at school. Share the positives about working with your child, and let the teacher know about changes, events, or IEP concerns that should be considered. Most importantly, show your child that school is a special place where you both feel connected and happy!