Our very own education specialist Alice Wellborn is now a regular contributor at FlyLady.net and we are thrilled to share her wise words with all of you. Alice is a school psychologist and the author of the amazingly helpful book No More Parents Left Behind. You can ask Alice your questions and Get the book at: http://www.nomoreparentsleftbehind.com/
The 2011/2012 school year is coming to an end – most of us have a week or two left in the school year. What is on your list to get done as the school year closes out? What do you need to retrieve from the building? What information do you need from this year’s teacher? Does anything need go on your calendar? Do you know what to do to prepare for next year? Have you worked on teacher selection for next year, if that is possible at your child’s school? Let’s all make a list and start checking off the items, easing our way to a relaxing summer and a well-prepared start to school in the Fall.
By the end of the school year, students have accumulated a lot of materials and personal belongings at school. They need to get home with left-over school supplies (including calculators and such for older students) so you can use them in your homework center or for school next year. School supplies are expensive — reuse and recyle! Middle and high school students usually have P.E. clothes and shoes stuffed in a locker — send a plastic bag for these and head straight to the washing machine when you get them home! Younger elementary school students often have extra changes of clothing at school, just in case they have a toileting accident or a disagreement with a mud puddle on the playground at school. If your child takes medication at school, be sure to retrieve the left-over medication from the school nurse or the office. Some children keep an extra pair of glasses in their desk at school — make sure they get home with those! And if there is any special school work that needs to be saved, remember to pick it up before the teacher dismantles her classroom. Special projects and art work are often posted on walls and bulletin boards, and may even be posted outside of the classroom in halls and in the office, so look around. It’s always a good idea to make one last check through the Lost and Found for stray jackets and sweatshirts. Children frequently leave these on the playground in the Spring, when the weather starts off cool and turns warm. If your child has lunch charges or lost library books, you will not be able to get the report card until those charges are settled, so take care of it now. If you have an extra set of textbooks at home, remember to get them back to school and checked in.
There are a variety of ways to get the final report card and statewide test results to parents. Make sure that you know the procedure at your child’s school. Do you need to leave a self-addressed stamped envelope at the school? Send it in immediately and cross it off your list.
If your family is moving over the summer, be sure to have copies of everything the new school will need: birth certificate, immunization record, report cards, test scores, 504 plans, IEP paperwork. Schools send out the official school documents to the new school when children transfer, but it can be a slow, frustrating process — particularly if your family is moving to a different state. The receiving school has to request the paperwork, and the previous school has to get it sent out. It’s remarkable how long that can take! If your child receives special services in school, you will be saving everyone a lot of headaches if you bring the complete special education record to the new school. The special education staff will copy what they need to start a new IEP folder. Your child can start receiving services with just a copy of a current IEP, but the new school needs the evaluation and placement information as soon as possible.
And speaking of special services, do you need to have a final IEP meeting or 504 meeting before school is out? If it is a transition year for your child, be sure to meet the new special education teacher and discuss how your child can best be served in the new school situation — the IEP can be amended if need be. If your child gets anxious in new situations, arrange to visit the new school several times during the summer.
Ask your child’s current teacher to suggest some books and activities for the summer that would particularly help your child. Many times there is a list of recommended books available, and teachers often have old math workbooks that you can have for summer practice. Even if the teacher doesn’t have any concerns about your child’s readiness for the next grade, it’s still important to have a strong summer reading program — either through the public library, or on your own. And don’t forget to include some math enrichment activities — money, calendar, mileage, time, and measurement all have natural applications at home.
If you plan to send a letter to the principal and/or superintendent this year, it’s time to think about what you want to say and get it written down. Make as many positive statements about particular school staff members as you can, but be honest and include any concerns as well. And if you want to send thank you notes to your children’s teachers this year, sit down and get it done. Thank you notes are a treasure to teachers, and well worth your time.
Make sure that your calendar includes school activities that occur over the summer and right when school starts: work-outs and “camps” for Fall sports and marching band, driver’s education sessions, Open House, first day of school, and the school schedule for first semester. Go ahead and look up the schedules for children’s activities at the public library and the local recreation department, and get those on your calendar as well.
Teacher requests are best made at the end of the school year or early in the summer, when the principal is assigning children to their classes. We’ve previously discussed teacher selection at length. Here’s a link to an article about the characteristics of a great teacher: http://www.greatschools.org/improvement/quality-teaching/79-what-makes-a-great-teacher.gs
Wow – lots of stuff!! Make a list and make sure you get through it before the teachers leave for the summer. This year has really gone by quickly – it will be over before we know it. Have a happy, relaxing summer and enjoy your children!
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