Here are some tips to help you get off to a good start this school year.
- Re-read your child's IEP.
Do you understand what the school agreed to provide? Do your child's teachers understand what they are to provide? Is your child's IEP SMART? (Specific, measurable, action words, realistic, and time specific).
- Meet with your child's teacher to discuss special needs.
Take a picture of your child to the meeting. Teachers are more likely to take a personal interest in your child and remember your child's special needs if s/he has seen a picture of your child.
- Take extra copies of your child's IEP to the meeting with the teacher.
Never assume that teachers have had the time to read your child's IEP before the start of the school year. Teachers have many things to do as they start the new school year. The teacher may not understand how important the IEP is to your child's success. Leave a copy of the IEP with him or her.
- Make a list of important things about your child.
Make a list of the five most important things that the teacher needs to know about your child. Explain why these things are vital to your child's success. Leave a copy of the list with the teacher.
- Prepare to deal with potential problems early.
If your child is in general education classes, prepare for the teacher tho wants to see how your child "gets along" before making any changes in the way they run their classrooms. Teachers often take this position because they want to give their students a fresh start. You may need to explain why your child my fail unless the teacher understands his/her unique needs and provides the necessary services, accommodations, and supports.
- Get a new assessment.
Consider getting your child's skills tested very early in the school year. Where are your child's skills on standardized educational achievement tests? Use these scores as baseline data. You can compare these scores with scores obtained at the end of the year to measure your child's progress.
- Resolve old concerns and issues.
If you have concerns or issues that were not resolved during the last PPT meeting, request another meeting immediately. Try to resolve these issues and concerns before your child begins to have problems this year.
- Go to your school's Open House.
In addition to giving you another chance to meet with your child's teacher (and make a good impression), teachers often explain their classroom rules during the Open House. When you attend, you have a chance to see if your child may have trouble understanding the rules. You will be in a better position to explain these rules to your child.
- Get a bound notebook.
Use the notebook as a "contact log" to send messages to the teachers. Write a sentence or two to the teacher every day. Do not make your child the bearer of messages about problems at school. Make a copy of the log often in case the notebook gets lost.
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