Top Ten Things to Start the School Year

  1. Keep a journal. I am not suggesting a long narrative detailing every aspect of your child’s school experience, but a simple highlight of those things that seem relevant. (e.g. length of time it takes for homework, changes in attitude, struggles with a subject.)
  2. Communicate with your child’s teachers. If they are in the upper grades identify and agree on a point person. The nature and frequency of the communication is dependent on the needs of the child. A weekly email is optimal. This should be a checklist rather than a narrative of each and every detail.
  3. The communication should be short and simple. Avoid daily or very frequent, long or angry emails.
  4. If you need a response, set a date for a reply that is reasonable. If the matter is urgent, pick up the phone.
  5. Get in the habit of using a binder or file where all records, evaluations, IEP’s and other school records are kept.
  6. Prioritize what must get done this semester/school year. Take inventory at least 4 times a school year making use of data, grades, your child’s attitude toward school, to make sure you are moving forward.
  7. Let the school know when things are working as well as when they are not. They are likely to hear your concerns with a more open mind.
  8. If the issue cannot be addressed in a short email then a meeting may be necessary. Ask for a meeting.
  9. All meetings should have an agenda of talking points. This is a joint effort between school and home and should be developed collaboratively. If the district isn’t willing to do that, you should bring your agenda to the meeting. The district’s refusal to address your concerns should be documented in the minutes of the meeting.
  10. Keep your eye on the big picture.
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