5 Steps You Need to Take Now for End of School Year
Step 1: Stay Focused
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The holiday break is over and it is time to re-focus your child’s attention off the toys and back onto books.
Sorry parents, this includes you, too. For parents of exceptional children, there are a few items to be aware of as your student works toward the end of the school year.
Some complain I’m being much too premature discussing the end of the school year right now. The month of June will be here soon enough, and as with anything related to special education, there will be plenty of red-tape. Being a pro-active parent can lead to positive results for your student when transitioning to the next grade level.
1. Stay Focused
Parents should keep the focus for this school year. Make sure your student keeps up with assignments, organization and school supplies. Nothing has changed as far as the children should be concerned.
2. Attend Open Houses
Depending on whether or not your student is transitioning to middle, high or remaining in elementary school, parents will want to attend any open houses or school based curriculum fairs offered this time of year. No matter what level your child is on, this is an important step. Parents will find event details on school websites. Parents may also want a private tour, but these need to be scheduled well in advance.
3. Check IEP Goals
What is working right now? What should be changed? What should stay the same? If your student has made progress, then find another goal to present at the next team meeting. If your student has not made progress, then perhaps request a quick conference now to ask for additional supports or modifications.
4. Schedule Year-End IEP Meeting
Send an email to your child’s teachers and administrators communicating the fact that you would like a year-end IEP meeting. Remember when I mentioned above that people think I am too premature? Well, there are many reasons you will want a year-end IEP meeting or at least a quick conference; either one should work to your advantage. It is a good idea to communicate your child’s needs for the next school year. Usually by May, teachers have a good idea who will be teaching which class, who is leaving and who is staying. Students are assigned to classes and teams during the summer months. If you have any specific teacher or classroom concerns, this year-end meeting is the best time to initiate discussions.
But here’s why parents should ask for a meeting now. First, (here we go again), my favorite words, “red-tape.” It goes on and on. Requesting the year-end meeting is only the first step; making it happen is something else. Teachers will be challenged to finish teaching all curriculum before the final assessments begin. After spring break, there will be even less time. Second, putting the “bug” in their ear now will make it easier to secure a meeting later. They will already be aware of your request and will be less likely to say “no.” If possible, you might even try to set the date now, but if you do, make sure you don’t change the date or miss the meeting. At that point, you will have lost all credibility and they will most likely not re-schedule.
5. Get Involved
Take the initiative and get involved. Parents best understand their child’s strengths and weaknesses. While the teacher has the daytime teaching job, parents have the nighttime and weekend teaching job. Continue to communicate with the teacher to find strategies that work or don’t work, and be sure to follow through. Don’t be so concerned about the specifics of the IEP, more importantly, be concerned with the progress. Third quarter is a wonderful opportunity to practice skills and tie up loose ends before the onset of assessments in the fourth quarter.
Overall, the start of the calendar year is really just the beginning of the end of the school year. Get focused and get going. Before you know it, your child will have successfully completed another school year.
C.C. Malloy lives in Greensboro and is a steadfast supporter of children with a disability. Any information here should not be considered legal advice and counsel should be sought for personal educational guidance. For additional support, please visit her website, Bizigal’s Exceptional Blooms.