The summer is an odd time to write about being prepared for the start of school . . . . I know. But parents, if this last year was a rough year and things did not go the way you wanted at school, I’m going to recommend that you spend some time preparing for next school year.
Find a copy of your child’s current IEP (individualized education program). You can get one from your child’s school if there is anyone at the office this time of year. Just go in and ask nicely. Review it and note what services will be offered and what modifications will be available to your student. It will be your job in the next year to check on your school to see if these are being offered.
What if you haven’t been successful getting an IEP for your student? It is very important to keep a record of how things are going. If you have notes from the teacher, or discipline notices, or any other documentation from your school, you need to 3-hole-punch it and keep it in a binder. Any conversations you had with the school should be saved here too. Write down what you remember and include the date. Keep everything in chronological order. Are you going to request a psycho-educational evaluation? See a sample letter here. Get the letter ready to bring into school as soon as it resumes in the fall. (It will take 4 – 6 weeks to get the testing scheduled and completed anyway.) Paper is everything! You can have dozens of conversations with the school BUT if your request is not written down and given to your school – nothing is going to happen!
Prepare a letter for your student’s teacher(s). I write a letter to my student’s teachers at the beginning of EVERY school year, since it is often the case that teachers do not receive their lists of kids identified as special ed. until several days, or even weeks, into the new school year. In my letter I gently remind the teachers that my student has an IEP and encourage them to go read it. Then I identify the things my student is good at, the things he has trouble with, and the things that help him to do his best. I invite the teachers to contact me any time about any issue with my student, as I want my son to have a successful school year even more than they do! Click here to see what to include in your letter.
Need to learn more about the process for kids with special needs in school, and how to help your student? I recommend From Emotions to Advocacy by Peter and Pamela Wright.
One more thought for summer: Now is the time for your student to go try out the things that he couldn’t get involved with during the school year, like a summer sport, a hobby or an activity he didn’t have time for. Our kids need to focus pretty hard just to get through the school year and they don’t usually have a lot of energy left over. Now with some free time those things can be tried. Lastly, take it easy! Give your student the gift of free time, to rest, to explore, to invent, to imagine, and try out all the other things we did in the summer when we were kids!
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