10 MUST DO ACTIONS BEFORE SCHOOL STARTS
1. Print out a current copy of your child’s IEP. Yes, EVERY page from the sign in sheet to the notes section that summarizes your last meeting.
2. Create a cover sheet for your child’s IEP. Include, likes/dislikes, summer highlights and reinforce that you look forward to open communication and working together during the school year. (Letter templates are available HERE inside the IEP Help Center.)
3. Take your child on a tour of the school.
4. Introduce your child to staff members before the first day of school and deliver a copy of your child’s IEP and the cover letter (#2 above). NEVER assume any staff member has received and read your child’s IEP. Handing the team members a copy may seem like over kill, but I promise you, it is not.
5. Create visual reminders for your child to discuss upcoming changes in their schedule. Take pics on your tour (#3 & #4) of the environments and team members and create a social story or flashcards your child can flip through. Does your child like to use your phone or their own tablet? Create a school photo album!
6. Safety check your child’s day. From wandering to food allergies, double and triple check your child is safe throughout the day by talking to team members. Assure that all health and safety plans are in writing before the first day of school.
7. Define your team’s communication plan. Instead of worrying about how the team will communicate with you this year, ask the team members their preferred communication method and how often they typically communicate. If you need a more intense communication plan, you can express the need in writing. (Hint: the key is to ask the team members their plan, first. This keeps communication options open.)
8. Double check accommodations and modifications will be provided from day one. Special seating, pencil grips, fidgets and sensory diets can make or break a child’s start to the school year!
9. Ask your child their feelings about going back to school. Do they have questions that need to be answered? Fears that need to be addressed?
10. Determine 3-5 main goals you have for this school year and FOCUS! It can be extremely difficult to manage every aspect of your child’s education, but if next Spring you can list 3-5 goals mastered…you can celebrate SUCCESS!
Need more help? Become a member of the IEP Help Center, HERE. This is NOT a parent support group or advocacy discussion group…Catherine Whitcher, M.Ed. will personally provide your IEP help in this exclusive group setting.