6 Steps To Ease Your Special Needs Child Into The New School Year
So, you’ve made it through another school year. You and your child with special needs should be proud and so relieved! What’s that? It’s already time to go back? It can’t be.
Alright, just breathe. You can do this.
- 1Get Organized – Both the child and the school are counting on you to be organized. Start a calendar to keep track of the meetings, school events and conferences. Set up a binder to keep your child’s paperwork, everything from special education documentation to meeting notices and IEPs. Keep track of all phone calls, e-mails, notes home, meetings and conferences. Get a notebook and create a “communication log” if you have to. Be specific with the dates, times and nature of the communications you have.
- 2Start Communicating – What is the point of all this communicating? It’s about making sure your child’s teacher knows as much about him or her as possible. Let them know what comforts your child. Discuss how he or she will communicate with you. The foundation for effective communication will based on understanding expectations. Most importantly, keep your child in the loop.
- 3Visit The Classroom– Start by arranging a visit in advance of the first day of school. Not only will you get a sense of the school layout and classroom set-up, but your child’s mind will be put at ease. Give him or her time to process the new environment. Let them see where they will be spending their day. Simply knowing where the bathrooms and exits are can help. Cap the day off with a visit to the school playground.
- 4Create A Routine– Help them adjust to this new schedule. Nothing alleviates anxiety like keeping a familiar routine. Start with a morning routine aimed at getting your child to the bus on time. Follow that with an evening routine to help him or her wind down for a better night’s sleep. It can take a few weeks to reset your child’s clock.
- 5Review Your IEP – Never rely on the results of your last IEP meeting. Things change between Spring and Fall. The Individualized Education Plan is the cornerstone of your child’s education program. When does it expire? Is your child up for reevaluation this year? Be sure that it is still appropriate for your child. Contact the school about holding an IEP review meeting if you have any questions.
- 6Attend School Events– That’s what they’re there for. Open House, Back-to-School Night and parent-teacher conferences exist so that you and your child can get a feel for the school and meet the teachers, other staff, students and families. Talk to your child about their expectations, as well as yours. Express any last minute concerns to the teacher. Most importantly, you want to kick the year off with a note of positive motivation!
Our mission at Harbor School is to help all of our special needs students with learning, social, language, behavioral, and other disabilities. Our highly skilled staff are committed daily to helping each student reach their full potential.
We would be more than happy to discuss your child's specific needs and challenges, so please call us at 732.544.9394, or request a tour at Harbor School in Eatontown, NJ. We are located just minutes off of the Garden State Parkway at exit 105 and conveniently located off of Route 35 and Route 36 in Monmouth County, NJ.
— Anne Gunteski,
Principal-Harbor School, Eatontown, NJ