Especially for Ethan. He has in his mind that "school" can only be in held within the walls of school and taught by a teacher. That is one of the reasons I am so happy he will be going back to school. It is hard with a child that has a learning issues during summer because you are always worried that they might lose some of the skills they have learned during the school year.
One of our main transition issues at the beginning of the school year is meeting a new teacher. We haven't done this in a couple of years because the last year, he simply moved up with his previous teacher, so I'm a little out of practice on how to introduce your child to a new teacher. This can be done with any child, but it is especially important when you have a child with special needs of any kind. Sometimes teachers just look at the labels and never look at the child and this is the way to get beyond that. I thought that since it was my first time in a couple of years, I would share some pointers with you and we could do it together.
- Don't go overboard with all the great things about your child. If you do, the teacher will just stop reading! Just hit the high points. With Ethan, it's probably going to be over 2 pages this year, but no more than 5. I will probably make a letter for Jonah this year, as well, due to his medical issues. His letter will average around 2 pages. But keep it manageable. Teachers don't won't a bunch of work right at the beginning of the school year.
- I know that for our teachers, today is the first day that teachers are having workdays at school, but they are not mandatory. Tomorrow morning is the first meeting with the principal, but again, not mandatory. I also do not even know who their teachers are yet, but I hope to squeeze that info out of someone tomorrow. Open house is not until Thursday night, so at some point this week, I will find out and try to hand deliver these letters and be available for a personal meeting.
- Include any information that the teacher needs to know. Remember, most teachers do not have the IEP handy, so this would be a "go-to" back-up.
- Include your child's strengths and needs. Give examples when needed and give suggestions and solutions.
- Provide teacher tips, personal observations, techniques that have worked in the past. If you have any forms or documents that you have previously used successfully, you may want to share them with the teacher. If you focus on the techniques that can make things easier for the teacher to cope in the classroom, that would go over better than insisting on what your child's rights are. Remember, you have to work together.
- Stay positive in your letter...don't make your child sounds like they will be impossible to deal with. Make sure you give all your contact info, including the best way to get in touch with you. Stay friendly in your tone and be helpful. You are the expert on your child...don't be the pleading and pushy parent.
- You can also include a small picture of your child, if you want. But it is probably a given that the teacher will learn who your child is soon enough.
- Keep a copy or notebook of all your correspondence with the teacher or other school staff.
- If you don't hear from the teacher within a couple of days of school starting, reach out and see how things are going.
If you have any more suggestions, I'd love to hear them...or if you have an example to share, please do!!