Aug 21

Getting to Know You in the New School Year

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Some of you may already have started the 2017-2018 school year, but others are still enjoying the last days of summer. Either way, it’s the right time to start creating this year’s record. Sure, the teacher has read the IEP. But a friendly letter of introduction is more personal. Here is an outline:

1. Introduce yourself and introduce your child. Acknowledge that you have no doubt that the teacher has read the IEP, but that you wanted to reach out in person.

2. The bad news: Tell the teacher your view of your child’s difficulties. Give brief examples, like Charlie has a hard time organizing the work he has to bring home. Share those things that will absolutely shut the child down. Share the warning signs and how to avoid them. Briefly state your concerns for the new year. Bullet points or numbered points are fine.

3. The good news! Share your child’s strengths and how to help motivate your child to respond positively. Explain the areas where the child thrives. Perhaps your child can’t organize for love or money, but they are a star athlete or artist. Explain how your child feels about their weaknesses (probably awful) and how emphasizing strengths helps your child feel like a winner.

4. Let the teacher know that you hope to work as a team. Ask her to set up a way to communicate so that problems are dealt with swiftly. Let her know when you want to be alerted. For example, when our hypothetical Charlie fails to hand in homework. Communication should be in writing as much as possible.

This letter gives the teacher the inside scoop from the person who knows the child best. It doesn’t guarantee an awesome year, but it sets up a written record from day one and you may (or may not) need that as the year continues, especially if you don’t see progress in your child’s academic, social or emotional development or ability to organize and meet homework demands. Wishing everyone a wonderful year!

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