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Learning Curve

A Few Back to School Tools

Old school sign

By Jane Grillo

It seems like as soon as the 4th of July comes parents begin the back to school rituals of clothes shopping, school supply list scavenger hunts and a million other tasks.

For parents of students who have an IEP there is the undercurrent of nervousness and worry especially if the child is preparing for a big transition up to kindergarten, middle school or high school.

If you are the parent of a child with a disability who receives special education services, you can do some quick homework by checking under the Find A Mentor tab to see if your school district has a parent mentor.  If there is a parent mentor serving your district, he or she will be able to assist you with finding transition resources and help you learn ways for your involvement in your child’s education to have impact.

All parent mentors choose initiatives based on a combination of goals: the Georgia Department of Education’s strategic goals and  indicators;  the needs of their individual school system based on it’s improvement plan; and Annual Parent Satisfaction Survey results.

All parent mentors work on one of the state indicators: Increase the percentage of parents of children receiving special education services who report that schools encouraged parent involvement to improve results for students with disabilities.  This makes Family Engagement an imperative for every parent mentor.

It also matters to parent mentors because every parent mentor is, first and foremost, the parent of a child with a disability.

“Parent mentors understand the important role families play in their child’s education to ensure student achievement and success.  When a child has a disability navigating the school system has particular complexities.  Because they have the perspective of a parent, a parent mentor can assist families with understanding how they can positively impact outcomes for their child on a day to day basis while also understanding the barriers students with disabilities and their families face.” ~Anne Ladd, Family Engagement Specialist, GaDOE, Division for Special Education Services and Supports.

Whether you are a parent mentor, a parent, a teacher or administrator, here are a few editor’s picks relating to tools and information about family engagement for your back to school preparations.

Scroll down for some of my link picks with back to school tips and downloads focused on Family Engagement research.

Here are a couple of our family’s back to school practices.

1. My teenager is NOT a morning person. We start rising early (at the usual time) about two weeks before school starts.

2. I review Joe’s medical document list that I give to the school. I also review my notes from our last IEP meeting (there are usually a couple of to do list things at the beginning of the year).

3. Joe is getting new teachers this year, so I will reach out to them during pre planning.  If they are open, I will bring Joe over to meet them.

4. I start talking about school, friends he hasn’t seen all summer, and other school related topics.

5. We plan weekly activities to stave off the end of summer blues as much as possible.

Enjoy the last few days of summer, and we’ll see ya at the bus stop!