Aug 06, 2018

Preparing for a Positive Start for the School Year

Son, dad and daughter outside in the park

Parents of students with disabilities know the drill better than most. While typical activities around the start of the new school year might including getting glue sticks and notebooks, these parents are preparing to introduce themselves and their student to a host of new teachers, environments and challenges. While all parents navigate this month of changes, there are some simple steps that might be particularly helpful to those parents of children who struggle most with the change that comes along with the end of summer and the start of a new school year.

Before School Starts.
Visit your child’s doctor to ensure all required health forms are current and to discuss any medication adjustments that might be needed. Begin thinking about organizational supports that might help you and your child keep track of information from the year: using color coded binders and folders are often helpful, and a shared calendar can help everyone align. Start adjusting sleep schedules and practicing your morning routine if that would be helpful for your child.

Say Hello.
A week or two before school starts, send a short letter of introduction to your child’s teacher. Think of this as a quick opportunity to summarize your child in a quick glance, and summarize her likes, dislikes, strengths to build upon, challenges and how they can best be addressed, and accommodations from your child’s IEP or 504 plan. This simple letter helps start a conversation and ensure that your relationship gets off to a good start. (Teachers in middle and high schools, especially those that have larger rosters, might find it helpful if you include a picture of your child.)

The Warm Up.
Casually talk with your child about the upcoming school year. Encourage her to talk about what excites or concerns her about the new school year. If you know other students that will be in her class, see if you can help alleviate social pressures from the new school year by connecting your child with other kids before school starts. You also might pick out an outfit or two ahead of time so there’s one less ‘first day of school’ jitter to work through.

Offer Additional Supports.
Your child might want to rehearse common questions about what she did over the summer. She might feel anxious about who she’ll sit with at lunch, so this might be a time to talk about friends she can reach out to. Spend a little time boosting her self-confidence about all that she has learned in the past year and about the excitement that comes along with a new school year. The extra time together will go a long way toward helping your child succeed in the upcoming year.

Need additional help?
You can find great resources for parents at and on the Family and Educator Partnership (FEP) page on

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Category: The Carpool Lane