Don't wait until it's almost too late before marking your calendar with meetings and special school events. Your special child needs you to be particularly involved, alert, and vigilant in attending meetings, monitoring activities, and getting assigments in on time. Fill a calendar before the first day of school, keep it up all year through, and give yourself an A for organization.
Time Required: A lot to start, a little to keep up
- Pick your calendar. You can use the calendar you keep for all family events or, if that gets too cluttered, reserve one just for school use. You can get a calendar that starts with September to make a real fresh start.
- Find your school district's schedule. It probably came home in a backpack full of papers toward the end of the school year. If you can't locate it, check your district's Web site for important dates for the upcoming year. Record start dates, vacations, days off, half days, test days, Back to School night, conference days, and anything else that will impact your child or your family.
- Circle the date for Back to School Night. Circle it in red. Put stars on the square. This is an excellent opportunity to visit the school, meet the teacher, and do some spying on an informal basis. Start lining up child care or making whatever arrangements you need to make well in advance. It's important.
- Find your IEP panic date. If your child has an IEP, look at the front page. It should have the date that IEP expires. Mark a date on your calendar that's a month ahead of that. If you haven't received a letter from the Child Study Team to schedule a review meeting by that date, panic. Make phone calls. Get that meeting set, and note it on the calendar. Depending on how slowly your district processes documents or sets up meetings, you may need to make that date two months ahead.
- Add appointment alerts. Think of all the doctor's appointments your child has on a regular basis, and mark a reminder on the calendar a month or more before they're due. If you call well ahead, you'll have a better chance of getting a time that won't conflict with school hours -- or to write notes and inform the school if it will.
- Update constantly. Once you've got your basic layer of school events set down, add to it faithfully and promptly as new dates arise. When your child brings home a notice about a concert or a field trip, write the date down immediately. When you arrange for a meeting with a teacher, put it up pronto. Record due dates for big projects or ongoing assignments, dates of important tests, volunteer schedules, anything and everything.
- Keep the calender where you can see it. The side of the refrigerator may be a good spot, or over your desk. You want a constant, in-your-face reminder of what's going on. It will make the year go so much more smoothly, and also model good organizational habits for your child. Don't let it get buried on an overstuffed bulletin board or ignored in an out-of-the-way spot.
- Calendars with a pocket on the bottom are handy for stuffing school notices for future reference.
- If you're really into organization, use different-colored ink for different types of events, different kids or different schools.
- Make sure the calendar has squares big enough to put all the dates you'll need to enter, particularly if you have many little students.
- More ways to make this the best school year ever
What You Need
- Prominent spot for calendar-hanging