A new school year full of new beginnings can be exciting yet overwhelming all at the same time — especially if your child has an IEP (Individual Education Plan). The experts at Education Team Allies are here to help. Founded by Lauren Ochalek and Beth Nolan, Education Team Allies coaches families to make sure that they have purposeful educational plans in place for their child’s bright future.

They shared three quick things to think about as you get your child ready for a successful start to the new school year!

Tips for Starting the School Year Right When Your Child Has an IEP

Make sure teachers know your child 

Does your child’s educational team have a clear understanding of the strengths your child possesses? One thing that we suggest is providing a “highlight reel” of sorts that gives teachers a brief overview of your child including, but not limited to, what works for your child, where their interests lie, and what your child is working on at home (or with other providers who may be outside of the school setting). This snapshot may also include a vision statement of sorts that includes your hopes, dreams, and long-term goals for your child. Furthermore, for students receiving special education services, this overview may also act as a personalized narrative to an IEP (or 504) that may be provided to your child’s team very close to the start of the school year, think Back-to-School night!

Make sure your child knows their classroom

Is your child familiar with their new classroom? Having time to familiarize your child with their new environment is a great way to seamlessly transition them into the new school year. One way that this can be accomplished is by reaching out to the school to see if they have a “Sneak-A-Peek” of your child’s classroom or asking to set up a time for a quick 15-minute visit the week before school starts. We might also suggest snapping a few quick pictures of the classroom so that you can create a social story for your child or simply spend time looking at the photos in an effort to ensure that your child feels prepared and excited for that first day!

Make sure you can collaborate with your school based team

Do you have a communication plan in place with your child’s educational team established before the start of the school year? Being proactive and establishing clear lines of communication before the school year starts gives everyone a way to celebrate success and discuss challenges, should they arise. A team-based approach is integral to every child’s educational journey and fosters a student-centered approach to education.

Looking for more Back to School Tips? Check out our 2019 Back to School Guide!