Back To School for Special Education – Check List!

Step 1

Create a one-page fact sheet about your child, with a picture of your child or family attached. This will let the teacher know that your child has a family that loves and supports him or her.  Include the positives about your child and your goals for your child educationally this year. Tell the teacher things you have found reinforcing for your child’s behavior (if any) and their favorite activities.  This may give the teacher ideas about how best to motivate your child.  Tell the teacher if your child has any sensory issues, or behaviors and how you handle them.  Give the teacher time to know your child as a whole person, and as part of a caring family.

Step 2

Make sure you understand what your IEP says and what services and supports your child is to receive. Be clear about when and how the school will be measuring progress towards your child’s goals, and how they will convey that to you.   Weekly, monthly? Every trimester?   If you want to gather data on your child’s progress, to measure if what they are using as a teaching method is working, you will need to gather information and measure progress more often than every trimester.

Step 3

From your child’s IEP, make a list of accommodations and services your child is to receive. Make a copy of that list and the IEP for the teacher(s) and give them out right away.  You’d be amazed how many teachers do not know what is on a child’s IEP.

Step 4

Meet early in the year with the teacher to talk about your child.Find out how the teacher prefers to communicate—email, phone, a notebook sent back and forth between home and school.  Communication can be an essential tool in understanding your child’s day in school and also giving the teacher a heads up on your child’s behavior for the coming day and why.

In communication with the school Document Everything Create your paper trail.  Start a communication log, so that you jot down the date, who you talked to (whether it’s on the phone or in the hallway), and what was said.  Then follow it up with a polite email thanking the person for speaking with you and reiterating what was said.  Print out a copy for yourself and keep it in your files.  Remember, if it isn’t written, it wasn’t said!

If you child is receiving his/her supports and/or services in the general education setting, don’t be afraid to ask:–  Who is providing these services and supports
–  What training did they receive
–  Who designed the specially designed instruction
–  Is it at your child’s functioning level and is it appropriate to help meet the goals?

Many times the person that spends the most time with your child, the classroom para-professional or aid, does not get information on your child because of confidentiality. In the general education setting and in the Special Education setting, you as the parent can give the para or aid as much information as you feel necessary to help them understand your child and their needs.  If they can not attend the IEP, it may be up to you as the parent to share, with the para or aid information about the supports and services agreed upon by the IEP team for the educational plan.

School can be stressful for everyone, Teachers, Parent and Kids. Remember that a simple thank you note, after a meeting or anytime can change an outlook in an instant!

And keep the tradition alive… do the bus dance on the first morning back to school…You know the teachers will be doing it at 3:15!