Gearing Up for a New School Year for Students with Learning Disabilities

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    On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!

    The first day of school is just around the corner for many students with learning disabilities. Excitement is in the air. However, many parents and students tend to become anxious. They really don’t know what to expect of their child’s teacher, especially when their child has a disability. For many students who learn to the beat of their own drum (and their parents), the summer provides a brimageseak from school/learning related issues- social, emotional, behavioral, suspensions, constant calls, etc. However, with the start of a new school year there is always the possibility of all those school/learning related issues rearing their ugly heads.

    Being proactive is the key to help avert some of the anxiety that both students and parents may feel. Change is difficult for all students, but this is especially true of students with disabilities. It’s important that parents take extra steps to ensure the best start to a new academic year.

    Here are a few things you may think about and discuss with your student(s):

    1. Get excited about the new school year. Your child will follow your lead. Express your excitement about the new school year and point out the exciting opportunities and activities your child has to look forward to.  Ask your child what most excites them. Make shopping for school supplies fun.

    2. Talk about the upcoming school year. Encourage your child to get involved in sports, band, clubs and other after school activities. Help your child to pick electives and exploratory classes that best fit their interests and strengths.

    3. Communication is essential. Find out who will be teaching your child. Ask your child’s teacher if there will be an Open House night before school starts. If not, ask if you could come introduce yourself and your child before the big first day. Assure your students’ teachers that you look forward to working with them and that you see your relationship with them as partnership. Be sure to leave your phone number and email and ask for their phone number and email number as well. (Some teachers may be reluctant to give out their personal number. That is fine, but you should still ask.)

    4. Discuss before and after school routines with your child. Also discuss expectations about homework and study times. You can also help your child develop goals and a plain of action to accomplish those goals.

    Hopefully these tips will help to ease any tension and stress and clear the path for a smooth school year. Have a fantastic new year!

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