Welcome to September! I hope your summer was as warm and as long and as relaxing as you wanted it to be. For me, summer never seems to last long enough—but now here we are, ready or not, at the start of another school year. Make yourselves strong!
Here are 5 things to get you on track to support your special needs child, while keeping your own stress to a minimum:
- Set the Stage – for monitoring and helping your child. Get your white board (at least 2 ft. x 3 ft.) hung up, in a highly visible place such as the kitchen or homework area. Make sure you have markers and a good eraser.
- Review the Blueprint – so you know what to pay attention to. Read your child’s IEP or 504 plan. Make sure you understand your child’s goals and how they will be worked on. What specific areas (no more than 5) will be the focus of his/her specialized instruction this year?
- List the Goals – so you and your child can see them. Talk with your child about goals and benchmarks. What does he or she need to “get better at” this year? Then, how will your child practice these skills at home—how often each week, for how long, in what way? Make a chart that is simple, colorful, and clear.
- Get Everyone on the same Page – make sure the key adults who will be working with your child have read the IEP and are “on the same page” about specific skills to be worked on, goals for the quarter or the year, and how these will be addressed each day in school
- Start Communicating – set up a simple but consistent communication system with the most important adult in your child’s day—teacher, special educator, guidance counselor or specialist. Call or email to start this system of regular sharing. It doesn’t have to be pages of writing, but it needs to happen weekly at the very least. Good news, bad news, areas where your child is struggling, things that aren’t “making sense”, upcoming tests or long-term assignments—if it’s happening or going to happen, you need to know about it. If homework isn’t making sense, school needs to know about it. Start right away, be consistent, insist if you have to. This is a partnership, and you can’t help your child if you don’t know what’s going on.
Remember the most important truth: You are the expert on your child. No one else cares as much or will work as hard for your child as you will. Your child needs your help with organization, practice, and follow-through to make sure the year is successful. Please visit my website (www.susanbrefach.com) for previous blogs that offer more ideas for helping your child to practice, learn, and make effective progress.
I hope you will share this blog with other parents or professionals who might find it helpful. My goal is to “make school work” for your child, and I hope you will contact me with questions or concerns.