As your child gets ready for school, it’s time to dust off the file folders and review paperwork from the past school year, at least. What paperwork? Your copy of the IEP or 504 plan, printouts of all emails and correspondence, invitations to conferences, evaluation results, and any other notes related to school. I suggest filing materials by year, with sections for legal documents, correspondence, and other notes.
Why review the paperwork? You want to start off with your child’s goals and progress clearly in mind. Assuming you have an individual back-to-school orientation planned, you’ll want to be prepared for a brief Q & A with the teacher/s. (More on that in a later post.) You also need to be very clear about what accommodations and modifications are in place. Evaluate their effectiveness based upon last year’s outcomes.
This is also a good time to set your own goals for the school year. List what worked well last year and what you’d like to see happen this year. Set up a school calendar and note important dates: IEP annual review, reevaluation (if it’s due this year), parent-teacher conferences, report cards, etc. Make notes to ask for a draft of the IEP a few weeks before the meeting. Remind yourself if you want the OT and SLI involved in your conference with the classroom teacher.
Decide what form of home-school communication would best support your child’s outcome. As a special educator, I wrote in a journal daily for some students on the autism spectrum. For others, I sent regular emails or even communicated with a team through a wiki. It could be that you want feedback on certain activities, such as current topics for social skills groups. Or perhaps you want to know with which students your child is making connections so you can arrange a playdate. Did your child have a meltdown? Was he or she sent to the office? Problems at recess? A short checklist can also make it easier for staff to provide feedback; in fact, that’s probably the most effective way to get classroom feedback on a regular basis. I have created a sample if you are looking for ideas.