How a parent can prepare for the school year

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Summer is ending

We all love the laid-back pace of summer. The long hazy and lazy days, not being on a demanding schedule, and actually stopping to smell the roses. This time of year is magical, and it offers many benefits to parents and children alike.

Summer can also be a time of reflection on the year past and a time of rejuvenation for the year ahead. It’s a pause in the grind that we all get swallowed up by from September to June. Labour Day weekend is a time of family BBQ’s, last minute getaway’s and for some, anxiety and panic about having to shift gears to becoming perpetually busy again as you move into back to school mode.

Crazy September can be quite the juxtaposition from the lazy, hazy summer. So what can parents do to best prepare for the year ahead?

The best thing a parent can do is to start to see their child as a learner – academically, socially and emotionally – so that they can best advocate for their children. Education is a partnership between home and school and if you are not doing your homework, your children are only reaping a 50% benefit of that partnership. So what should parents be doing to prepare to be an advocate for their child?Children succeeding after their parents helped them get ready for school

Revisit the report card

Begin by revisiting the June report card and re-read it. During the summer months, parents also have taken the time and space away from the school year. You now might have a fresh perspective and find new meaning when reading the report card. Here you are looking at the subjects on the report card; this is a window into what your child learns.

  • Here is how we suggest you read it:
  • Create a blank template using the subject headings as your categories.
  • With a pencil underline all of your child’s strengths in all subject areas
  • Transfer those strengths to your template organized by subject
  • Repeat the process with your child’s areas of weakness
  • Add them to your template

Now you have a picture of your child as a learner – this will help guide you throughout the school year when observing and trying to work with your child at home.

Learning skills

Next, focus on the learning skills. They represent a performance analysis record of how your child interacts and copes academically, socially and emotionally in the classroom. They speak directly to your child’s executive function, which is tied to their social and emotional intelligence. This intelligence allows your child to learn and demonstrate skills embedded in the curriculum across all subjects and grades. Reread them, carefully. Get to know your child as a learner – socially, emotionally and academically.

Now for some parents, the prep guide ends there. You have used the Ministry Report Card to arm yourself with the knowledge to best guide, support and advocate for your child next year.

Individualized Education Programs and more

For others, you may have other pertinent documents that come into play regarding your child’s individual school experience. This includes but is not limited to Psychoeducational Assessments, Speech and Language Assessments, Individualized Education Programs (IEP ’s), Behaviour Therapist Reports, Occupational Therapy Reports and general assessments.

Remember – a new IEP should be created for your child 30 school days after the first day of school. Every IEP should be sent home with a parent consultation form. Use the chart you created to ensure that your input is in line with your child’s strengths and needs.A teenage girl succeeding at school after her parents helped her prepare

We cannot stress enough how important it is to be an advocate for your child and to know them as learners, and not just as your son or daughter.

Gather the evidence and know your child as a learner. Become fluent in the language of learning and speak it with ease and confidence when working with your children’s teachers. It will make a world of difference this year.

As for your children? Let them enjoy the final few carefree weeks left of summer. We both know that because you are coming into the new school year with a whole new breadth of knowledge, they are already a step ahead of the crowd.

If you need any help developing an advocacy plan, an IEP, preparing for a visit with the Identification Placement and Review Committee (IPRC), applying for specialized equipment, getting an assessment, or reviewing your child’s placement or school – do not hesitate to call a professional to help guide you throughout the process. After all, every child has the right to an individualized education where they feel successful and can achieve.

Educational Consultants Ann and Karen Wolff at Children Support SOlutionsBy: Ann and Karen Wolff

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