Back to school ads. They’re appearing earlier and earlier in the summer. Early enough to create turf wars between back to school and the Fourth of July industries. While early July is way too soon to think about going back to school, the same can not be said for the end of July in many parts of the country. Like my part of the country where the school year begins on August 14.
Yes, you read that right. August 14. Only 3 weeks away.
Just enough time for parents in our local school district to take some steps to make the new school year transition easier for their kids with special needs. The back to school transition tips listed below were first implemented by parents who entrusted their children with special needs to my care during my 25 years as a teacher. Now, it’s my pleasure to pass them along to you.
Back to School Tip #1
Start early. Contact the school office of your child’s building several weeks before the new year begins to make sure everything is in place so your child’s IEP can be implemented as written: teachers, associates, equipment, modifications, etc. If your child is moving to new room or building, set up a time to take a tour with your child. If your child will have new teachers, set up a time to stop by to meet them.
Back to School Tip #2
Help others get to know your child. Create a book about your child for your child’s teachers. You’ll find more information about what to put in the book at DifferentDream.com, along with downloadable forms, and page descriptions. You can drop the notebook off when you stop by to meet the teachers, a few weeks before school starts so they have time to look it over and call if questions arise.
Back to School Tip #3
Listen well. Of course, you want teachers to get to know your child. But you need to get to know teachers, too. So listen carefully to them. Pay attention to their questions asked and answer as many as you can. Listen to concerns and offer reassurance and solutions when you can.
Back to School Tip #4
Show consideration. The beginning of the school year is a stressful time for teachers with too many district meetings and too little time to spend in their classrooms getting ready for students. If you ask for a meeting outside of their workday, they have to give up time with their own families. They may be charged more by their children’s day care provider. So be considerate of their time.
Back to School Tip #5
Express gratitude. Start the school year by saying thank you. Thank teachers for the unpaid days they spent getting their classroom ready, for reading the information you provided about your child, and for meeting with you especially if it’s outside of their contracted work day.
Back to School Tip #6
Be visible. Once school starts, be visible in moderation. Volunteer in the classroom or school, sign up to be a room parent, or offer to help with field trips. Arrange for a weekly email or phone call update. Stop by now and then to see how things are going. But do all these things in moderation. You don’t want to be perceived as a stalker or take away from teacher-student time in the classroom.
Back to School Tip #7
Be persistent. Know what the school needs to do to implement your child’s IEP. If the district is not following the IEP, be firm. First, talk to the teacher. If that doesn’t improve the situation, speak to the principal. Continue moving up the chain of command until the problem is resolved. For more information, visit Wrightslaw.
Back to School Tip #8
Pray. The separation of church and state means prayer is not allowed in school. However, as parents of a child in the public school system, you have the unique privilege to pray for the faculty, staff, and students in your child’s school. Exercise that privilege by creating a list of people involved in your child’s school day. Pray for one or two people on the list each day. When you reach the end of the list, go back to the top and start over. Pray that God will use you and your child to show the compassion and care of Christ to everyone who has contact with your child at school.
Because there are Christian educators and students in the school who covet and need your prayers. Because through the compassion and support you offer, those who are not yet saved may begin their own transition from the darkness of this world to the eternal light of Christ.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.
And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us,
a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.