First, you need to get a large 3 ring binder. This will allow you to keep everything in one location. In this binder you should keep the following:
- past & present IEPs
- samples of your child's work
- correspondence to and from the school
- Notes you have taken
- notes and information on programs that are available in your area
- any forms sent to you from the school district
- medical information from your child's doctor
Now that you have your IEP binder made, you should highly consider keeping a journal on your child. In this journal, you should keep track of all conversations between you and the school, follow-up actions, and notes from your IEP meetings. (Yes, you need to write down notes during your meetings. I will have more on that on a later post.)
Part of the "getting organized" process is an overview of your child's IEP process. In the beginning of the school, it is a great time to gather your information and develop a sense of what your child needs help in. This is especially crucial if you are just starting the process of wanting to get your child in special education. After the first few months of school, the process will take off. During the early winter months, you will have enough information to start looking over your child's information. If your child is already in special education, keep tabs on their IEP and see how they are progressing. Next, in the early spring months, is when you focus on working toward getting an IEP program in place for your child if they are not in special education already. If your child is in special education already, you start evaluating how they have progress throughout the school year and what you want on their next IEP.
All in all, it is vital that you keep track of your child's progress throughout the school year. It will provide you with a basis for comparing one semester to the next, and one subject to the next. IF you don't keep close track, it is hard to tell how your child is progressing. Also, keeping tracking of your child's progress will make your case for eligibility. If your child is not yet in special education, you can use the materials you gather to show that your child is not improving. It will help you argue for a particular placement in case you have to. Also, most importantly, it will help you develop a positive relationship with your child's teacher. As a former special education teacher, I LOVED when my students parents were involved and active in their child's life. It will help you and the teacher to learn from each other.
It is extremely hard to keep track of your child's progress without being organized. Organization can be the key to helping your child.
Please stay tuned for more special education series post...