They're H...E...R...E! Are you seeing school supplies at your local stores yet (but avoiding making eye contact)?
Depending on what state you live in, your child(ren) might be returning to (public/private/online/or other) in July, August, or September. It's a good idea to find out who their teacher is as soon as possible. Some schools send that info out via mail, email, or post lists at the school sites. Sometimes that information isn't available until Meet the Teacher Night and in some cases, a teacher hasn't even been hired yet! Some kids might be returning to the same instructor and there are pros and cons there too. So, you want to prepare your kiddo(s) as best you can to make them feel at ease about this new school year and where they will be spending so much of their day.
If you have a child with Special Needs, it's a good idea to insist on touring the school grounds well before that Meet the Teacher Night. If you have the latest copy of the IEP, might be time saving to hand a copy of it and have it placed in the teacher's school mailbox. Yes, the Spec Ed. Dept is supposed to make that info available, but sometimes that doesn't happen until well into the school week and there could be helpful things the teacher should know to make everyone's day run more smoothly. If your child is already on an IEP, then be looking for that expiration date and request a meeting now to get it on the school's calendar. If those goals that were newly written in the Spring no longer make any sense to you now, then request a meeting. Remember that you can request a meeting anytime:) In general, if you want your child to be tested for speech or think that there might be something additional going on, then request a MET in writing and go from there. A school does not have to offer extra services based solely on an outside psychologist's recommendation/diagnosis. The school has to test, meet, and talk placement along with possible support services with parent/guardian. Newbies to this arena, save every email and keep a separate folder for all communication between you and the school.Communication is super important. Hopefully, the school excels in this area, but if not, be prepared to take the reins to make it happen. For younger grades, a teacher might have a communication log that floats between school and home and is checked frequently. Some parents email and some might even have the teacher's cell number:) Some teachers and coaches might use Remind or other apps to keep everyone posted. Find out the school's policy for returning phone calls, etc. For example, some schools might expect the teacher to return a call or email within 24 hours if not sooner. Let the teacher know that 9 p.m. is too late to call unless that's something you both agree to. I mention that only because this happened to us and I was not a happy camper. Find a way of communicating that works for everyone and stay in touch.
When you get to the classroom on Meet the Teacher day/night or if you drop off at the classroom door on the first day of school, take a peak inside that room. Seats might change frequently throughout the year, but do look to see if there are distractions near your child. Those cutie bulletin boards and colorful posters could be super bothersome to your child and disrupt learning opportunities. It breaks my heart to write this, but check to see if your child is isolated in any way. This is definitely something that should be monitored throughout the school year and you can certainly get it in writing that you prefer to be notified should your child be changing seats in classrooms (or changing location at any time on campus during the school day). Sometimes there are just really minor things in a child's environment that can be easily changed. When this happens, the child can have more success.I think most parents/caregivers are aware of the usual things: supply lists, donation requests, future class project materials, field trips, technology permission forms, P.E. clothes, school uniforms, bus route, drop off/pick up spots, emergency contact sheet,health office forms (meds), school policy forms, athletic clearance packet, syllabi w/ parent signature and all of the other housekeeping items that happen with traditional schooling. Remember to keep it simple. If bringing a backpack or bringing a lunch from home is new for your kiddo, practice at home. Practice having them stuff their sweatshirt in the bag and zip it up. This is a hard task for some kids. Do a mock lunch and practice unzipping the lunch bag and all of the items that go with it. If your kiddo struggles to open a pouch drink with straw or even a water bottle, try to practice at home or find a container that s/he can manage solo. Maybe find out if there is a water fountain in the cafeteria so they know where they can wet their whistle if they need to. Your child will need to use the restroom during the school day. Check out the bathrooms too so that kids feel comfortable using them. Toilet paper should be stocked in those stalls, but with so many little ones using the facilities, chances are one or all might be out of toilet paper. Prep your child to look first before doing their business. Seriously, not only could it save you a phone call, but you can help the child from developing toilet phobia, OCD, or other embarrassment/anxiety.
Happy 1st Day of School! Do yourself a favor and be sure to stock the fridge with everyone's favorite treat (just in case).
Thank you for this and all the helpful information on our chat this morning!
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