Monday, August 1, 2016

How to prepare for a new school year when your child is on an IEP

A new school year often means that many changes are going to occur. For most children, this also means that there is going to be a new teacher and often times it may also mean that there may be new team members added to the IEP team. For this upcoming school year my son is going to have a new first grade teacher and he will also have a new IEP case manager. When I was thinking about these upcoming changes I decided that it would be best to write a quick blog post on ideas to help your child transition to a new grade when they are on an IEP. Please see the list that I have created below.

  1. Set up a meeting with the new team: I think that it is imperative to set up a meeting with the new team. This is even more important if there have been changes to the team such as a new teacher being added to the mix. For children on the spectrum, there are often times many things that a parent can share to help ease the transition. For example, my kiddo has high functioning autism and he will be in a mainstream first grade class next year. There are certain things that work well for my son that I feel really need to be shared before the first day of school. Transition can be extremely difficult for my son so during these meetings I always bring up the importance of using a visual timer. I also discuss how important open communication is to me and during this time I always update my preferred contact information. There are many things that can be shared at one of these meetings, but I think that it always helps if the new teacher has a better idea of what to expect before the first day of school. 
  2. Review IEP/Accommodations/and Behavior Plan if applicable with the team: I think that it is imperative for every team member to review the IEP, accommodations, and the behavior plan (if applicable) prior to the first day of school. I always review the accommodations with the team and I also share the importance of how these accommodations need to be implemented with fidelity.
  3. Establish Daily Communication Correspondence: This may look different for each child. You may find it useful for a teacher to send home a communication journal each day. In this journal you can share anything of importance that may impact the next day. A communication journal is a great way to build a partnership between home and school. Some children may need a color chart or smiley face chart to track behavior throughout the day. If you think that your child may need something like this and it hasn't been used in the past, this should be developed prior to the first day of school. We used a color chart for my son last year and it worked outstandingly well to help encourage good behavior throughout his day. This chart was sent home everyday with teacher comments and I was able to review it each day and either give him a consequence or positively reinforce his good day. 
I hope that this list helped provide you with some useful information. Moreover, I hope that all of your children have a strong start to the new school year!

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