** Guest Post Alert! This post was generously written for us by, Michael Monheit, with Parents Caring For Kids With Special Needs! **
Tips For Special Needs Kids For The New School Year
It’s fall, which means back-to-school time! As a parent of a special needs child, your preparation goes beyond buying notebooks and pencils. If your child is enrolled in traditional school either full time or part time, you’ll need to prepare others things for them to be successful. Below are some tips to help with back to school.
1. Collect All Your Paperwork In One Place
Consider scanning everything – Individual Education Plan (IEP) notes, doctors visits, Vanderbilt evaluations – into one folder on your computer. Make a hard copy back-up, as well. Keep everything labeled and dated, including any notes that you have taken in meetings or at appointments.
Read over your child’s recent IEP and see if there are any changes that should be made for the new school year. Depending on when the plan was implemented, your child may have learned more over the summer, or have “outgrown” some of the specific needs. Children’s brains change rapidly – some things that were not present at the initial IEP may have developed as your child has grown. If there are significant changes, arrange for a revision to the IEP.
2. Arrange A Pre-School Teacher Conference
Attending the “meet the teacher” night at the school might prove to be overwhelming to your child. Families will be there, and the hallways are noisy and crowded. If you child is especially sensitive to large crowds or loud noise, inform your teacher.
Ask to meet one-on-one with your child’s teacher. Go over the routine of the classroom, and explain the needs of your student. If possible, include your child in a meeting and tour of the classroom to walk them through their day, where they will sit, where their belongings will go. Ask the teacher to “map out the day” with your child, and walk them through it if possible.
3. Practice The School Routine At Home
The week before school starts, wake them up at the time you will when school starts. Have them practice the school routine, including breakfast, grooming, and leaving the house. Include gathering their supplies, such as backpack and lunch box, then get in the car. If possible, drive them to the school. That way, the first day will be familiar to them.
4. Be Aware Of Changes In The School Routine, And How This Will Affect Your Child’s Day
Some children become very upset if there is a substitute teacher, as that teacher may throw off a routine that your child is used to. If possible. have your teacher or the school call or email you in advance of a sub, so that you can walk through expectations and prepare your child for the small change.
Assemblies in the school can also be disruptive, as they take place during the regularly scheduled class time. Also, these can be loud. Some children with auditory sensitivity may become upset at the noise. If your child is upset by the noise, consider revising their IEP to include this, as well as the use of noise-canceling headphones that they may wear during these assemblies.
5. Keep The Structure Of Learning At Home
Your child will have outside assignments and homework. Set up your after-school routine and schedule to give them a time to unwind and relax if they need it before starting on homework. If having a gap of unstructured time between school and homework makes it more difficult for your child to refocus, make completing homework the first part of your after school routine.
Going back to school, meeting new friends, and learning new things can be stressful for all students. For special needs parents, your child will thrive with structure and routine. Working with the teachers and the school to give consistency will help your child feel secure and ready to learn.
Michael Monheit, Esq is one of the founding lawyers of Monheit Law, P.C. where they are dedicated to the protection of individual rights. The firm specializes in birth injury, brain damage, brachial plexus injuries, negligence and malpractice lawsuits.