Back-to-School Toolkit: What You Need for Day 1

Article
Aug. 9, 2022Updated Sep. 15, 2022

CartoonCartoon

It’s that time of year again! As we get ready to send our kids back to school, we’re thinking about all the things they might need to be successful this year — new click-top markers and pencil grips, sure, but that’s not nearly all. We’ve put together the following printable templates, checklists, and resources for your back-to-school toolkit to help make your child’s transition to a new school year as smooth as possible.

Create an IEP at a glance

At the start of the school year, teachers are incredibly busy and may not take the time to read your child’s entire IEP right away. You can make sure they prioritize your kid’s most important support needs by creating an IEP at a glance. This one- or two-page document briefly explains your child’s strengths, where they need support, and their most important goals.

Check out our template that you can use to make your own “All About Me” for teachers and school therapists. This template also includes a space to include your vision statement, your child’s strengths, what they’re working on, and what teachers need to know about working with them. It’s a wealth of knowledge that teachers will be able to refer to quickly!

thumbnail image of template

Schedule a campus orientation tour

If your child is attending a new school this year, see if you can arrange a campus visit before their first day. Going through your child’s schedule and making sure they know how to get to each classroom and bathroom, the cafeteria, the nurse’s office, etc. can help calm those back-to-school jitters so they’re more comfortable with the change in environment.

Check out our campus orientation checklist written with help from an orientation and mobility therapist for a printable list that you can bring with you on a tour.

If a campus tour isn’t possible before the first day of school, you can request a temporary transition aide to assist your child in navigating campus for the first several weeks. The aide can be faded out as your child gains confidence in finding (and settling into) their classes and extracurricular activities on their own. To request this temporary transition aide, Dr. Sarah Pelangka (special education advocate, BCBA-D, and owner of KnowIEPs), suggests parents try one of several options:

  • Call an IEP meeting and request that a district rep be present (they have to approve the temporary service);
  • Email the district and make the request to see if an aide can be approved at least for the first few days;
  • Ask your child’s teacher if they have a classroom paraprofessional who is available during transitions.

Create a visual schedule for the new school routine

Visual schedules are amazing for helping kids with routines, especially when transitioning to a new daily schedule or staying motivated to complete tasks. Whether your child would benefit more from a printed calendar, a magnetic board, or digital reminders, this article rounds up some great apps and websites to help you create a custom visual schedule for this school year.

Make sure your kid is ready for day one

To avoid the morning rush on that first day of school, create a list of items that your kid will need to bring, and get those items ready in advance. Run down the list again as you send your kiddo out the door to make sure nothing is forgotten! Here are some ideas to get your back-to-school checklist started:

  • Regular medications, including any paperwork required by the school with your child’s doctor’s signature
  • Emergency medications, such as those for a food allergy or seizure, also including any paperwork signed by your child’s doctor
  • Extras of supplies your kid might need or run out of, like a change of clothes, face masks, glasses cord and cleaning cloth, motivational items to provide sensory support and encourage good behavior, a pillow for positioning or safety (seizures), or hearing aid batteries. Check out this list put together by Undivided parents for additional ideas!

Schedule a one-month IEP check-in

IEP experts and fellow parents recommend scheduling an IEP check-in about four to six weeks into the new school year to make sure it’s being followed. Check out part two of your back-to-school toolkit for more resources to help you prepare for this check-in!

We know that the beginning of a new school year can feel overwhelming for both you and your kid. If you need help mapping out your priorities, making a plan, and getting your child the support they need, try a free Kickstart with an Undivided Navigator. They’ll help walk you through all the resources we have available, including step-by-step guides in the Undivided app and education advocacy services to make sure you’re prepared for the school year and beyond. Members also have access to bi-weekly Office Hours with our Education Advocate and other experts to make sure parents get all their questions answered. Schedule your Kickstart today to try membership for free!

The best way to deal with first-day nerves is preparation — so let’s get prepared!
Tags:

Contents


Overview

Create an IEP at a glance

Schedule a campus orientation tour

Create a visual schedule for the new school routine

Make sure your kid is ready for day one

Schedule a one-month IEP check-in

Join the Undivided Community to get more resources like this in your inbox


Promise Image
Each piece of content has been rigorously researched, edited, and vetted to bring you the latest and most up-to-date information. Learn more about our content and research process here.
A Navigator is your Partner at each turn
Every Undivided Navigator has years of experience supporting families raising kids with disabilities or parenting their own. Partner with an Undivided Navigator for a free Kickstart to learn first hand what support feels like!
tick-icon
Identify near-term goals and priorities
tick-icon
Develop a vision for your child and family
tick-icon
Map out strategies to execute near- and long-term goals
“It’s so helpful to have one place that you can go to get many answers.”–Leeza Woodbury, with Navigator Kelly since 2020
*Currently offering Navigator Kickstarts to residents of California