Getting ready for the new school year?
In addition to getting those school supplies, new shoes and hair cuts, keep in mind these tips for a successful school year.
- Review your child’s IEP: Read through the IEP to refresh your memory and familiarize yourself with the content of the IEP. IEPs have several sections such as Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLAAFP), Accommodations, and Goals & Objectives section. Create an organized file of educational records (school work, report cards, information from parent/teacher conferences, progress reports on IEP goals and objectives, and notes that your child brings home). This can help you monitor the progress your child makes throughout the school year.
- Build relationships: Initiate friendly contact with each teacher who will work with your child to share your child’s strengths and interests. This will help them know your child as a whole person and may provide insight for additional learning accommodations. Stay involved throughout the year by talking with your child’s teacher on a regular basis. If you can, volunteer in the classroom, the library or with school functions. Join your building’s Accountability Committee or PTA.
- Educate yourself: Don’t let the educational system be complicated and overwhelming--arm yourself with knowledge. Read books and articles, attend conferences and trainings.
~ The Colorado Department of Education has a new video for parents about the IEP process. The video summarizes the IEP process and supplements the information with tips and comments by parents and professionals. Scroll down on this page to view the video.
~ Wrights Law Website offers a weekly newsletter, workshops, and books such as “From Emotions To Advocacy”. There website is www.wrightslaw.com.
~ The Legal Center offers a book for parents: “The Everyday Guide to Special Education Law.” There website is www.thelegalcenter.org.
~ Peak Parent Center offers a variety of workshops check their website for information at www.peakparent.org.
- Effective IEP Meetings: Plan and prepare. Request a draft copy of the IEP a few days before the meeting so you are familiar with the information. Write down your questions and ideas so you won’t forget to discuss them during the meeting. Know who will be at the meeting so the number of people around the table won’t surprise you. Share any private assessments prior to the meeting so the team will be familiar with the information. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. Bring someone with you so you’ll have a support and another set of ears to hear what others are saying. Everything you want for your child is not equally important. Make a list of what your child really needs, what you want for your child (but may be willing to compromise on), and what would be nice to have but that you would definitely be willing to give up. After the meeting send everyone an e-mail or letter summarizing agreements and saying thanks.
- There’s more to life than school! Extracurricular activities can help children learn and gain confidence. When looking for ways to make your child feel successful, consider this: No one knows him/her as well as you do. You understand his/her strengths, weaknesses, and interests better than anyone. Use this knowledge when choosing activities, even if it means bypassing what all the other kids in the neighborhood are doing in favor of something more suited to your child.
- Take care of yourself: Parents also deserve a balanced and fulfilling life. Finding a reliable and helpful sitter, exercising, getting enough rest, and having fun can help recharge your own batteries.