Back To School Checklist

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    The end of summer also marks the beginning of a new school year. This can be an exciting yet stressful time for both parents and kids alike. Kids may be worried about facing the academic rigors of the school year, reestablishing their friendships, and…well..having to wake up early again. Parents confront concerns about new teachers interacting with their child, understanding the challenges of hydrocephalus, and both the teachers and the school providing the proper support for academic and social success as well as safety.

    Before the School Year Begins

    Visit Your Child’s School

    Schedule a time for you and your child to visit the school and your child’s classroom before the school year begins. This is helpful for children who may have memory or navigational challenges and particularly for children who are starting a new school or for middle and high school kids who will need to change classrooms unassisted during the day.

    Elementary School – Some elementary school teachers will be happy to take a child through the classroom routine and place visual guides and checklists with the student that they will use throughout the day to remind them of “next steps” and tasks.

    Middle and High School – For older kids, walking their schedule helps to reduce anxiety and familiarize them with the layout of the school in relation to their classes. Contact the school administration or your child’s counselor to get a copy of their schedule and permission to walk the hallways.

    Attend School Orientations

    Take advantage of school orientations. This is not only a chance for socialization where your child can connect with old and new friends, but it also allows them an opportunity to familiarize themselves with their schedule and the layout of the school.

    Meet with Key School Staff

    If your child is new to the school, it’s a good idea to meet with the school nurse and, if in middle or high school, their guidance counselor a few days before the whirlwind of school starts. All children with hydrocephalus should have an Individualized Healthcare Plan (IHP) on file with the school nurse. Each school and/or school district will have a form that you will be required to use. You can also provide a summary of your child’s medical history that the nurse can keep in their files. Two sample documents can be found here: Medical History and Medication List Fillable Form and/or SAMPLE Brief Medical History. You can also use either of these for summer camps or extracurricular activities.

    Starting Off the School Year Right

    Review Your Child’s IEP, 504, or Individual Service Plan

    Review your child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP), 504 Plan, or, if they are in private school, their Individual Service Plan (ISP) to remind yourself what it includes and to make sure it is still relevant to your child. Some parts of these plans to pay particular attention to: academic and/or behavioral goals and objectives. Also, the accommodations and or modifications available to make the academics more accessible for your child. Make note of the next annual and triennial meeting due dates as well.

    Remember: You can ask to hold a meeting anytime to review your child’s IEP or 504 Plan if you feel it needs to be adjusted before the next meeting.

    You may find these resources helpful as you advocate for your child:

    Educate the Teaching Team

    Provide the teacher(s) with valuable resources describing hydrocephalus and the learning challenges your child faces. You can provide these resources in person at a meeting where key teachers and/or paraeducators are present. It can also be done over email. If you choose to try to bring the teaching team together at the beginning of the year, consider waiting a couple of weeks so that teachers have a chance to get to know your child first before learning about their challenges. Here are just some of the resources for your child’s teacher(s) that you can choose from on our website:

    Create a Communication Plan

    Schedule an informal meeting with the Resource teacher and/or your child’s classroom teacher(s) to review the plan for executing supports and accommodations. If your child is old enough, have them participate and even lead the meeting. In that meeting you can:

    • Create a plan for regular communication between the school, you, and your child.
    • Create a system to notify your child of missing assignments.
    • Create a method between you and the teacher to support your child in completing large assignments.

    Remember to give your child age-appropriate responsibilities to hold them accountable for communicating with the teacher and keeping track of their assignments.

    Attend Back-to-School Night and/or Open House

    Attend Back-to-School Night and/or Open House to introduce yourself to your child’s teacher(s), and begin the important task of creating open lines of communication. Most teachers now like to communicate via email, so exchange email addresses if they have not already been provided to you. Some teachers will insist on using the messaging capabilities in the educational platforms provided by your school district (like Canvas, Blackboard, etc.). Make sure you familiarize yourself with those platforms. TIP: Most platforms now have mobile apps so that you don’t miss any important notifications or messages.

    Tips And Tricks To Make Daily Life Easier

    Establish Home Routines That Support Independence

    Many of our kids struggle with Executive Function and ADHD issues. Simple process lists around the house can establish solid before- and after-school routines as well as morning and nighttime routines. Adjust them according to your child’s age and needs. These can be very helpful at any time from kindergarten through high school. To see two samples from one of our moms, click here for the Home Routine Cards 2010 and here for the Home Routine Cards 2012.

    Tech Savvy? For the more tech-savvy parents and kids, look for appropriate apps that can walk your child through their before and after school routines as well as help organize homework, etc.

    I have a morning and nighttime list hanging on the bedroom wall, a bathroom list next to the mirror in the bathroom, and before and after school lists in our kitchen. It allows my daughter to move through her own routine without me nagging. It makes her feel good to do these things on her own without forgetting something.

    – Amanda, mom of Gabriela, age 12.

    Stay Ahead of the Clutter

    Come up with a plan with your child to help clean out their book bag, folders, desks, and lockers on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. This allows you to see their work and helps them remove the clutter to be able to more easily stay focused and organized. Have a hole puncher handy! Blocking out the time to sit together and pull out everything that is loose and floating in backpacks and binders and then organize it and putting it in its place develops routines at an early age that can become something they do on their own as they grow up. It also can be a special time to review their work together and talk about what they’re learning.

    Organize All Of Your Administrative Paperwork

    Managing our kids can mean a lot of paper and a lot to remember! A three-ring binder can be one of the most effective ways to keep your child’s special education documentation, meeting notes, and IEPs/504s/ISPs in sequential order. It’s also easy to grab (or even keep in your car) when you’re running to a school meeting straight from work!



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