There is no shortage of things to buy, do, and prepare for your child's return to school this fall. If you have a child who has learning differences, receives services, struggles with behavior or mental health, etc., you have even more to think about this school year. We've put together some important reminders to start this next school year off right!
Review Your Child's Evaluation
If your child has an existing evaluation, one of the first things you need to do is make sure the evaluation is still up to date. Evaluations are typically considered valid for 3 years before your child needs reevaluated. The next thing you will want to do is review your child's suggested accommodations. While schools (especially private) may not be able to offer every recommendation, it is still important for you to have a strong grasp on what is being suggested. You will also want to double check that your child's school has all necessary paperwork. Finally, if your child does not currently have an evaluation, but you think it might be beneficial, we strongly encourage you to not wait. The earlier one can be completed, the faster changes in the classroom can occur, leading to a greater likelihood of a successful school year.
Gather EOY and Summer Reports
If your child received services (tutoring, speech and language therapy, counseling, etc.) in the previous school year, or over the summer, it can be very informative to have end of year or summer reports to provide your child's new teachers and specialists. This will allow the educators to see what was accomplished, what strategies worked well and didn't, and where things left off.
Schedule Time With the Teacher (With Patience)
One of the most important things you will need to do is schedule some time with your child's teachers. Having that 1:1 time to talk through your child's specific needs, struggles, and what makes them tick can be very helpful. Keep in mind, however, that your child's teachers are extremely busy at the start of the school year. Be patient and let them find a time that works well with their schedule. The last thing you want is for important information to get lost in the shuffle because you had to fit in a meeting during an overly busy time. Remember, these teachers are preparing for a successful year with not only your child, but 20-30 other students.
The good news is, once your child has an evaluation, there will most likely be a learning specialist, special educator, or case manager assigned to your child. These educators have specific case loads and are tasked with coordinating your child's learning plan. If you are able to set up a time to meet with them, they will get the necessary information to all of your child's teachers.
Be Proactive About Support
While many caregivers will wait until the first report card to start tutoring or other services, we recommend taking a more proactive approach. Getting ahead of problems as opposed to trying to remedy them after the fact, can make everyone's lives easier. Starting early in the school year gives providers the ability to help your child make plans, set goals, and build strong habits for the entire year.
As always, taking time to check in with your child about their feelings is crucial. While all children will experience emotional ups and downs heading back to school, it is very common for students who have academic or emotional differences to feel an increased sense of anxiety and even dread. Make sure your child has a space to feel heard and seen, whether that be with you, a close family friend, or a professional.
For more information on helping your child navigate heading back to school, head to our Instagram page for the recording of our Instagram live with Dr. Jordan Wright, our Chief Clinical Officer, on all things back to school.