Back-to-School Toolkit: What You Need for Day 1
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!
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
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 our Adaptive Tools and Supplies list put together by Undivided parents and an OT 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 this article for more resources to help you prepare for this check-in!