By now, your children have been in school for a few weeks, and the “new and fun” aspect may be wearing off. Pretty soon, the work is going to increase- in amount and complexity. If you bought the four school supplies I recommended in the last blog, you are now ready to set up a home system that will:
- Allow you and your child to see the goals he or she needs to work on
- Prepare review cards for your child to use to master vocabulary, science and math concepts or formulas, math facts, history dates, spelling words, and other factual information
- Set up a consistent pattern of communication with your child’s teacher(s) and keep a record of this communication
- Encourage your child to be responsible for working on his or her goals
How does all this magic happen? It’s not magic, just simple organization. You will be teaching your child simple executive functioning skills, while keeping track of what your child and his teachers are doing each day to reach those critical goals. Ready?
- Set up the white board as shown below, listing your child’s major goals as listed in the IEP
- Make sure you and your child agree on what goals will be listed, how they will be practiced, and how often. Don’t try to work on more than 4 or 5 goals at one time
- Send in the notebook to your child’s teacher or special educator, with a cheery note saying that you will hope this book can go back and forth in your child’s backpack, and that you will be sharing how things are going at home, and want to know the same about his or her work/progress in school. Say that you hope for communication 2-3 times per week. If things start going downhill, you can increase the frequency. The important thing is to start this process.
- Use the index cards every time your child comes home with information that needs to be memorized or mastered. Have your child write each fact on a card, use an elastic to keep them together, and date them. These should travel in the car or be pulled out whenever your child has a few minutes of “down time”. Five or ten minutes a day will get the information in memory without the “last minute rush”. I’m sure this will seem very old-fashioned, but trust me, it works.
- Use the small white board in your child’s room, and list the goals as well as daily reminders of chores, self-care, and activities your child is involved in. In addition, come up with a little reward, privilege or treat for your child at the end of the week, to recognize his or her work.
So that’s it. Organization, lots of visuals, a clear set of tasks to do, and a plan that will help you and your child reach his or her goals. Give it a try. If you have concerns, questions, or comments, please leave me a message below, or check out my book for parents, No Parent Left Behind: Navigating the Special Education Universe.