Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Back to School: Planning for Success!

09/23/2015 | Published by: Cindi Paschall

Planning for a successful school year takes time, dedication and a plan of action.

Set high expectations

Share your expectations with your child. It has been said that within even the most reluctant student, there is a small part that desperately wants to learn. The strength of the desire is determined by someone’s belief in him or her. Be that person in your child’s life!

Review current ARD/IEP paperwork

You may need a refresher. As you review the Individual Education Program (IEP)  paperwork, make note of the following…

  • goals and objectives  – are they “SMART”  (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely)
  • dates for pending assessment reports
  • when progress will be reported and methods for monitoring progress
  • modifications and accommodations
  • frequency, duration and location of special education and related services

If there are unresolved concerns from the previous year, changes are needed, or if you have new information, schedule an Admission, Review and Dismissal or Individual Education Program (ARD/IEP)meeting to address these issues as soon as possible. Your child’s success may depend on it!

Form a partnership   

Schedule a parent/teacher meeting to share expectations – yours and the teacher’s(s’). Being clear about expectations in the beginning may help avoid misunderstandings in the future.   

Create a one-page document about your child to give to your child’s teacher(s). Lay out the most important information, including your child’s strengths. Be sure to include a picture of your child as well as your contact information. Let the teacher know that questions are welcomed.

Teachers are charged with reading each child’s IEP paperwork and being prepared to teach each child, but it is not uncommon for teachers to start the school year without the necessary ARD/IEP paperwork for their students.  If the teacher has not been given a copy of your child’s IEP paperwork, provide a copy.   Anything parents can do to make things easier for teachers at the beginning of the year, while also getting their child's needs met, is a good idea.

Demonstrating that you are an involved parent not only shows that you are willing to work with the school, but it also lets them know that you are ready to take action if expectations are not met.

Schedule a Trial Run 

Tour the campus with your child and locate his or her classrooms, the cafeteria, playground, locker, office, nurse, gym, and restrooms before school starts.  Introduce your child to the people you come in contact with during your visit. Let your child know who can help them if help is needed. This simple step can increase a child’s confidenceand independence.  

Join the school Parent Teacher Association (PTA) or Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA)

While you may think the meetings are boring, the PTA/PTSA knows more about the day-to-day operations and the culture of a campus than you can imagine. You will be amazed at what you learn and how you can use the information to benefit your child.  Your involvement may also provide natural opportunities for other parents and children to get to know your child. Parents often bring their children to volunteer activities and events. Bring your child too!