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  • Deanne Shields

Preparing for the New School Year

Getting ready for the new school year can be exciting. Buying new clothes, school supplies, and the anticipation of spending more time with friends. New school years can also be stressful for students and parents. What are some things parents and students can do to help start the year off right?

First, if your child has an IEP or 504, eventually, the general education teachers will get the goals and objectives, but it may take a couple of weeks. Also, the teachers may not know what accommodations the student will need or how these accommodations are best delivered. It is always good to contact all the teachers before school begins, either in person or by email. If the parent knows what accommodations work best for their child or suggestions on how to help the child succeed in class, let the teacher know. This way, teachers can be aware of their needs and be prepared on the first day of school.

Second, make sure your child knows what their IEP goals are and what accommodations they need. As children get older, they can choose to use or not use their accommodations. At the college level, if they are allowed accommodations, they must personally inform each teacher and fill out the required forms each semester to receive their accommodations. With that in mind, it is good to help your child practice explaining their needs and disability in a safe, supportive, space so that they feel more comfortable doing this in school and later for employment.

Third, set up a way to communicate with the teacher during the year if there are problems, concerns, or wonderful accomplishments. For example, let the teacher know if you want to be notified if there is a problem, missing assignment, etc. Find out if the teacher posts copies of notes, assignments, and activities online so you can easily access them if they are lost or your child misses a school day.

Fourth, be familiar with the online platform used at your school. For example, in Canvas, a parent can be added as an observer so they can see class materials and assignments.

Fifth, get organized. If the teacher doesn’t specify on their disclosure document what materials they want your child to use (notebooks, 3 ring notebook, folders, etc.) ask them at back to school night.

Sixth, at back to school night or before school begins, help your child become familiar with the school. If it’s a new school, find the restrooms, cafeteria, and classrooms. If the child changes classes, practice finding each one. Does your child have a locker? Practice opening the locker and then walking to class. Some children are worried about taking too much time to get their locker open.

Most importantly, involve your child in all of these steps!

Now for some parent homework. If you haven’t done these things, it’s a great time to learn about IEP’s, 504’s and accommodations. Below are some recommendations and the links to these articles are also found on our website,

If your child is 14 or over, learn about transition planning as part of an IEP

Assistive Technology and AT Evaluations

If your child is going to a college or university


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