Do Your Back-to-School Homework

Do Your Back-to-School Homework

For most parents, getting ready for back-to-school means stocking up on supplies and planning out new wardrobes. If your child has special needs, though, you may have some more homework to do before your family is really ready for that first day.

Here are your assignments:

1.  Assemble a teacher information packet

Don't assume that your child's teacher is going to be fully informed about your child's needs and Individualized Education Plan (IEP) from the get-go. Be sure all the details are available by providing them yourself with your own personal spin. Include a friendly letter, a few short printouts about your child's disability, and a Positive Student Profile to get things off on the right foot. 

2.  Double-check your services

Does your child rely on a bus ride, a car seat, a paraprofessional, special equipment, or other must-have items? Make sure you didn't forget to include them in the IEP this time around. And either way, give a call to the special-education department in your district to make sure no one there forgot about them, either. A no-show bus is no way to start the school year.

3.  Read your child's IEP

In addition to catching any services that might be missed, reading your child's IEP over before the start of school can remind you of goals set for the year, therapies and services promised, names of people you'll be dealing with, percentages of time in different placements, and where your child is starting from.

4.  Brush up on your special-ed knowledge

These weeks before the start of school are a good time to read some books on special education and IEPs, visit some websites, or take an online course to reinforce your knowledge about the law and what your child has a right to.

5.  Start a reading routine

Kids can fall out of good homework habits over the summer, and be honest -- you've probably been relieved not to have to deal with that as well. One way to get you both slowly back into the habit is to read every day with your child. You'll be reinforcing skills, enjoying some together time, and getting used to settling down for part of the day to learn something. You can then carry it over to required school reading when that starts coming home in the backpack.