Summer can bring many changes for kids as they mature and they can develop or fall behind on skills since the end of the previous school year. Children who have Extended School Year services over the summer may have goals that have been mastered or new challenges may have presented themselves that need to be addressed in the new school year. It is essential to ask current providers to supply data showing the results of current goals that were set for the summer break. This will allow you to be better prepared for the first Individual Education Plan meeting.
A three ring binder is an essential tool for parents. This can be used to hold current evaluations, progress reports, and correspondence from the school all in one place. You may also want to include any medical information that is relevant to the child’s diagnosis or condition. Is your child on any new medications, has the need for services increased or decreased, have any of the child’s providers changed? You will be ready to address these topics in your next meeting in an organized manner when you prepare ahead of time.
Some suggestions for the binder sections are:
Current Individualized Education Plan
Letters from the school
Letters to the school.
Another great tool that has proven helpful for many teachers and administrators is a personal page of information or a Power Point presentation about your child. Teachers are required to read and implement each child’s IEP or 504 plan, but in reality many are overloaded with multiple reports and may not have had the opportunity to give it the attention needed. It can be helpful to make a simple introduction page or Power Point with your child’s picture. You will want to list their strengths, challenges, likes and dislikes. You can offer the teacher suggestions that help when your child is struggling with any issues they may see most often. Remember, they do not know your child as you do so it is important to be honest and give the teacher information that will prove helpful when teaching your child. It is beneficial to help the transition go as smoothly as possible for all involved. Make sure the teacher knows the times you are available for questions and support.
Finally, the most important thing to remember while getting ready for the new school year is to breath. Many of us can get wrapped up in trying to make sure all the t’s are crossed and i’s are dotted but, we must remember that we are doing our best to ensure a successful year is accomplished. There will be ups and downs and there may be changes that need to be made throughout the year, as some things will work and some will not.
Find a support group in your area that can be a resource for you and your child as you manage this journey. Find humor when you can in any situation and allow yourself to find time to relax. This is not always an easy road but with support and organization things can be much more manageable.