As the school year is quickly approaching—I can’t believe the summer is over already—there are things that parents can do to get prepared for what’s to come. Here are a few of my back-to-school tips. I hope they serve as helpful guidelines for the new school year.
- Read your child’s IEP to ensure it presents a good picture of who he/she is and what he/she needs. Remember that if it’s not written, it doesn’t exist.
- Talk about the change with your child and what they can expect. Make it as positive as possible. Your child will get their first impressions from you.
- Develop a social story about the new school and the expected changes for your child. Include actual photographs, if possible. (You can easily copy pictures from social media and school websites)
- Some schools have very nice web sites. If your child is computer savvy, visit the web. Check out the photo gallery.
Plan to visit the new site over the summer, maybe even several times. Walk the campus, visit the office, meet the office staff (Principal, ESE Spec, Support Facilitator, etc). If your child will require a “safe person” or “safe place”, make sure that they meet that person and visit that location prior to day one of school.
- Schedule a classroom visit the week before school begins with the ESE Spec at the school. This will allow your child to visit their new room (and teacher) without the distractions of all of the other students.
- If your child is a middle or high schooler who will be changing classes, make sure to get a copy of the class schedule, walk the classes, as well as visit the lunchroom, cafeteria, gym and rest rooms.
- Create a “Snapshot of My Child” or “Day in the Life” letter for the teacher. As we all know, the IEP can be a very daunting document. Developing a synopsis of who your child is offers the teacher a quick overview of what she/he can expect and what works best for him/her. It is as important to prepare your teacher as it is your child.
- Call the school during the summer to ensure that all specially designed/adaptive equipment for your child has been transferred to the new school site. Make sure devices are in the room and ready to use soon as your child arrives.
- Attend the Orientation held at the school prior to school beginning. Plan to get involved in your school (ie, PTA, SAF/SAC, School Volunteer, etc).
*Stacey Hoaglund is a parent of a young man with autism, special needs advocate and author. She is the founder of Disability Training and Support Specialists and editor of The Autism Notebook Magazine. Website | Facebook