Back to School Success: Starting the Year Right
The commercials have started advertising back to school sales, the days that initially seemed endless with the possibility in June have suddenly gotten shorter now that August has started, and many parents, counselors, teachers, and children are envisioning a new classroom reality in just a few short weeks.
The start to a new school year can create many emotions in both children and parents, as many children are filled with excitement in learning who their teacher will be and which friends will be in their class.
However, for children who struggle in school, the start of a new school year can bring anything but excitement. For the parents of a child with learning differences, often anxiety about what the year will hold can be overwhelming.
Will the teacher understand my child? Will my child learn? Will my child dread going to school every morning? Will my child make friends? As a result, early communication can be critical to ensuring a positive transition to a new school year.
5 Tips for Children with Learning Differences
1. Be Proactive
Be proactive and set a time to talk with your child’s new teacher or teaching team. Set your child up for success by scheduling a time to discuss your child and their needs before any issues arise.
If your child has an IEP, 504 Accommodation Plan, or another learning plan, reviewing this at the beginning of the year can help plan for their current needs.
2. Share Your Child’s Strengths and Weaknesses
It is important to let teachers know positives of your child’s learning profile in addition to any challenges they may have in the classroom. If your child has had assessments in the past, share what you feel comfortable with the results.
3. Share What Has and Hasn’t Worked in the Classroom
Try to reduce the “guessing game” in a new environment and plan for success. While teachers are pulling from their experiences and are likely to have a wealth of ideas, they may not know what works best for your child at the start of the year.
Use the discussion to brainstorm ways to make these strategies work in the new class environment.
4. Involve Your Child
You can have your child write an “introduction letter” to their new teacher to start building a positive relationship and to begin teaching them self-advocacy skills. Also, talk to your child about the exciting aspects of the new year and try to reduce “back to school jitters”.
5. Discuss How You Can Partner Together Throughout the Year
Ask how you can help support the teacher and curriculum at home, ask about the best ways to communicate throughout the year and ask about how any concerns can be addressed in the future.
Early, positive communication between parents and teachers can help foster a collaborative, supportive learning environment throughout the year!