How to Prepare your Student with a Disability for a Successful Start to the School Year
Hello CASE families,
We hope you’ve all had a restful summer and are ready for the upcoming school year! To ensure that our students have the best year possible, a little planning can go a long way. Here are some tips from the CASE advocates to help you start the year off on the right foot.
Tip 1: Review the IEP Now
Do you know when the annual IEP will be held? If it’s anytime within the next two months, reach out to your case manager and schedule the meeting now.
Are the accommodations and other supports still relevant? Did any new areas of concern emerge this summer? Have all of your student’s strengths been taken into account in the IEP? Perhaps an IEP meeting is needed to discuss these issues.
Are any assessments - perhaps a triennial - due this year? If so, ask for an assessment plan at least three months before they are due.
Have any outside professionals (doctors, therapists, etc) recently provided information that should be included in the IEP? If so, call a meeting!
Get organized: having an IEP Binder with all relevant information in one place helps students and families stay on top of the process. Understood makes creating an IEP Binder easy: https://www.understood.org/articles/how-to-organize-your-childs-iep-binder
Get organized, part 2: create a calendar and include important dates (Back to School Night, conferences, IEP meetings, etc) as soon as you are made aware of them.
Tip 2: Over-Communicate
Reach out to your student’s teacher and support team before the school year begins
Ensure everyone on your team has read your student’s “IEP At A Glance”
Write (or update) a Student Snapshot and share with all adults in the school (lunch lady, school secretary, librarian, everyone!). The PACER Student Snapshot format is a helpful guide: https://www.pacer.org/parent/php/php-c160.pdf
Tip 3: Prepare Your Student
Are there opportunities to visit the teacher(s) and classroom before the beginning of the school year? If so, take advantage of them!
Transportation: map your route to school in advance. Drive or take your bus route the week before so you can anticipate traffic and other factors. If your student will be taking the school bus, confirm route information, especially pickup location and time, as early as possible.
Social stories can be a great way to prepare a student for what’s ahead. Case managers, social workers and speech pathologists often make social stories - reach out to see if they have one specific to your school that they could share with you.
Start the school year with solid routines surrounding bedtime, morning, and getting out the door. Visual schedules and checklists can be helpful destressors. Need some options? This blog post is full of them: https://confidencemeetsparenting.com/morning-routine-checklists-for-kids/
Starting the school year with a well-organized backpack can do wonders for a student’s stress levels! There are many organizing guides online, including this one: https://www.erincondren.com/inspiration-center-organize-your-backpack
Get that backpack organized, part 2: This blog post offers some great strategies for creating a backpack organization routine: https://blog.cambridgecoaching.com/how-to-keep-your-middle-schoolers-backpack-organized-in-8-easy-steps
Tip 4: HAVE FUN!
Need more information? Reach out to your CASE advocate to discuss any specific concerns or questions you have. We’re here to help!
Alida (Lee) Fisher Karma Quick-Panwala
Executive Director Director of Advocacy