Special Education

Back to School Tips for Parents
of Students who have IEPs
Getting Ready for the New School Year
By Wendy Overturf
Intensive Support Specialist
600 W. Virginia Street. Ste 501. Milwaukee, WI 53204
Getting ready for a new school year can be daunting, especially for children with disabilities and their parents. To make the process a little easier, here are some tips to help prepare for the new year — whether they’re starting school for the very first time or returning after the summer break.
Start talking about the school year
The end of the summer break may provoke sadness, but this can be eased by getting your child excited about the new school year. One way to do this is to begin talking about school before the first day back. You might ask them what they’re most looking forward to, such as a subject they’ll be studying, which teachers they hope to have or even just discuss practical arrangements like transportation to and from school.
Reintroduce your child’s normal routines
If your child has specific routines during the school year, it’s a good idea to reintroduce these before the first week of school. This will help ease them back into their normal schedule while also ensuring that their first week back isn’t too overwhelming. Often sleeping and eating patterns are not consistently routine during the summer, so it’s important to start reintroducing those routines.
What are Your Concerns?
Write down the questions you have for school staff. Consider what worries you most about the new school year. This will help you figure out where to begin and who to contact first.
Who’s on Your Child’s IEP Team?
Do you know who your child’s teachers and aides are for this fall? If not, call the
principal and introduce yourself and your child, and ask if you can be connected with your child’s new team. Ask to meet the case manager, and/or email the teacher. This will give you the chance to share ideas, suggestions, and tips for working with your child. IEPs or other plans do not always provide a complete picture of your child.
Special Supplies
If your child brings special supplies, make sure that they are at school for the first day. If the school is providing those supplies, call or email the teacher to make sure that they will be available on the first day.
Consider What Might Help on the First Day
For example, it might be helpful for your child to meet the bus driver, take a tour of the classroom, or visit the lunchroom.
With some planning, the first day of school may be less stressful for you, your child, and school staff.
(Adapted from Sept 2018 Family Voices of Wisconsin Article)