By Cg La Scala, Director of Advocacy
It’s time to head back-to-school! And during this especially hectic time of the year, there are many preparations to make. Having an IEP and concerns about its implementation adds yet another layer to all of the excitement. As we approach the beginning of the 2018-19 school year, I wanted to provide a few tips and ideas for the new year!
- Take a field trip.
If your youngster is moving from one school level to the next-from preschool to kinder, elementary to middle, middle to high, take a “field trip” to the new school. Your youngster probably visited the new school with his classmates in the spring. This visit should be leisurely to acquaint him/her with everything in the new setting. Help him/her begin to learn some of the navigating he/she will need to be as independent as possible. Where is the lunch room, his or her classroom, the music room, the art room, the restroom, nurse’s office, main office, media center, computer lab, exits, and so forth? If possible, more than one visit for those who may need more practice is helpful.
- Review your child’s IEP.
A couple of weeks into the school year, send an email asking general ed teachers (including music and art teachers): what accommodations they find themselves using frequently, and whether there are things they do that aren’t listed on the IEP that you will want to add at your next meeting? Inquire about your child’s socialization with peers. Is your child “in the thick of things” or on the sidelines? Keep a journal of anecdotes, emails, phone calls.
- Establish a communication strategy with teachers.
Do not shower teachers with emails full of questions but try to keep your monitoring to only one message a week, other than the need to discuss serious incidences that may have occurred. It might be good at back-to-school night, to ask a general question like “how quickly do you respond to emails?” That way when you send an email, you know about how long it will take to hear back about your question. You probably would do well to establish with the school team that you will be monitoring weekly or monthly or whatever works for you at a meeting with the team. You want it to be a part of your child’s plan, so the team knows it is nothing for them to be concerned about; it is your usual practice.
One last thought, a few weeks before school begins, if you have relaxed some of the rules for summer, ease your child back into the routine of school with adherence to bedtime at a certain time, getting up and dressed by a certain time, less or no screen time during school hours, etc. Happy 2018-19!
Our chapter provides educational advocacy to families who live in Arapahoe & Douglas Counties; however, part of the Cherry Creek School District is served by The Arc of Aurora. Click here to view the Cherry Creek School District divide between chapters.