It’s now October and the school year is well underway. I hope all you parents out there used this past summer as a time to rest and recharge your batteries as much as possible. I am sitting here thinking of the events that unfold at the beginning of each school year, starting with the ritual of back-to-school preparations as new clothes, shoes, a backpack, and whatever else is required are purchased. Along with the giddiness of having them out of the house finally, comes the uneasiness of another school year and worries about how it will unfold as it progresses.
Back-to-school time is the time to pick up what was set aside last year and move forward. Attending your school’s open house provides an opportunity to meet the teachers and Principal. Also, if you haven’t already, you can find out when your school’s advisory council meets and make plans to attend.
In my experience, I have found that a minimum of two weeks at the beginning of each school year is needed just to get children on the right buses and settled into their new classrooms before stepping back up to the plate to begin monitoring the process once more. If you haven’t already, now might be the perfect time to refresh your skills and brush up on the IEP.
Often, having competent staff that naturally meets the needs of your child can lull parents into a false sense of security or complacency. The new year may present a different school building and grade level for your child and that will result in a totally different dynamic in his or her education. This is why the procedural process under IDEA must be consistently followed by both the parents and the school district.
It is just good business to be consistent in your approach to the IEP! http://www.parentcenterhub.org/repository/iep-overview/
Investing the time now by being involved will reap benefits tenfold as the year progresses, especially if any future problems arise. Planning ahead requires establishing where you are now, what progress was made to get there, and what services were required to get it done. This is where we start when planning for a new school year. These baselines in services, progress, and outcomes will establish where we begin to build for a new year.
Consistently adhering to the procedural process is critical to reaching the long-term goal of independence that we all strive to achieve for our children. Our vigilance pays off in the consistency of the delivery of services which in turn yields a consistency in progress.
In my personal efforts to advocate for my child, I found that it was much easier to continuously remain involved and vigilant than it was to not be and then have to start over from scratch trying to undo something that occurred when I wasn’t being vigilant.
It is now time to ask a series of questions starting with: Did my child experience a significant regression during summer break that is now requiring an extended amount of recoupment time to regain the skill? Were the goals on the IEP mastered? What are the current present levels in all areas? Now that you have an idea of where you are, you can begin the process of determining where you need to go and what will be required to get there. http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/esy.index.htm
Be prepared to do your “homework” before requesting an initial IEP for the new year. Meet with the teachers and review your child’s progress before you take additional steps. Look at the data and look at your child. The data and your perception as a parent should match. Following this approach of constant parental involvement and monitoring throughout the year will negate the panic parents feel when they realize that the school year is ending and no progress was made, or that regression has occurred during a break in instruction.
Remember, it’s important to take a collaborative, proactive approach rather than an adversarial, reactive one. Parents and professionals working together provide the best outcomes for children and informed parents make the best choices for their families. http://www.parentcenterhub.org/repository/iep-progress/