Summer has come to an end, and the new school year has started! To help your child start the year off right try using these tips:
As your child gets ready to head back to school it is a great time to help prepare him or her for what to expect. Writing a social story about his or her new school schedule might help make things go smoother. An example of a back to school social story can be found here. It is best to use pictures that your child can relate to and that reflect his or her school. The information in the story should pertain to your child. You can even use his or her name and picture throughout the story. Include information about what will happen each day such as riding on the bus, and going to the cafeteria. You should read the story with your child daily for the days or weeks leading up to the first day of school. You can also read it for the first few weeks of school as your child is adjusting to the new classroom. If you are not able to create a social story, talking with your child about school in a positive way and telling him/her what to expect is a good idea. Visuals help. Use pictures whenever possible.
2. Contact and Communicate:
Contact your child’s teacher and/or SENCo and ask them for the contact information for the therapist (if provided by the school) who will be working with your child. It is a good idea to make contact with your child’s therapist, and to keep in touch with the therapist throughout the year. Writing in a notebook, e-mailing, making phone calls or attending meetings with the therapist are important and this contact and communication should take place regularly. Do the same if more than one therapist is working with your child, i.e. from in-house/school, out-reach or externally.
Contact the SENCo, SLT or OT and ask and re-confirm what your child’s schedule is for therapy.
4. Check and Review:
Pull out your child’s IEP and look over the goals. Make sure that they are still appropriate for your child. Sometimes IEPs are made many months prior to the start of the school year. Many children make developmental jumps during that time so they may have surpassed their goals or, some children may have regression over the summer and may need to re-learn skills that were previously mastered. If you feel changes need to be made to the IEP, contact your child’s teacher, SENCo or therapist to schedule an IEP review.
5. Select Goals for Home:
Your child’s therapist will only be working with your child for a certain number of hours each week depending on his or her IEP. It will significantly help your child’s progress if you are able to select one or more of the IEP goals to work on at home. Speak with your child’s therapist to see which goals he or she is targeting in therapy and ask how you can help your child practice those skills at home.
If your child receives private SLT or OT sessions in addition to school based learning support, it is very important that you ask the all team members involved to collaborate. Contact between the therapists, teachers, learning support assistants and SENCOs will require that the parent give permission for all to speak with each other. Collaboration between parents, your child’s school based team and private therapists will help your child to make progress faster and will allow all people involved in your child’s program (including parents) to brain storm and problem solve together to help your child succeed.
Have a great school year!