Back-to-School, Parent Conferences, and IEP Meetings. Oh My!

Back-to-School, Parent Conferences, and IEP Meetings. Oh My!

Then I get the Back-to-School Night reminders and I’m thinking “ I hate Back to School Night.” I know this is a surprise since I’m 110% about my kids. However, as a single mom with 2 kids who go to school in Virginia and Maryland while we live in DC means that I have a crazy commute during rush hour. In addition to having to pick one of the boys up first , get back into DC to pick up my other son, and then return to the school.  Are you feeling the WOW factor yet? If not, let me add the Back to School Nights are on a Wednesday and Thursday.

So I pose the question to myself “What’s important about Back-to-School Night when I meet with my sons teachers this month for Parent /Teacher Conferences? Why do they have so many meetings?”

The Origin Story of Confidently Parenting

I was having my first parent teachers conference at my daughters new private school and I was told my daughter needed to be placed in a group for reading comprehension. I couldn't understand what the teacher meant since she was reading and from my standpoint she could tell me what the story was about. The teacher assured me that all kids develop at different rates and they have placed her in group that would support her reading comprehension skills. I felt as though maybe I messed up because I taught her how to read.

The moment I started to doubt myself and decided to leave my child's education to her teachers.

For 5 years I had a feeling that something wasn't right with my daughters performance in school. Homework that should take her 30 minutes to complete would take her an 1hr in a half. I would ask the teacher what they thought and they always said its developmental or just a general “We don’t do that” .

By 8th grade my daughter would tell me she's working real hard but she feels like she was letting me down and started to show signs of depression. I went on my computer and just started to type in symptoms . I discovered the type of testing that she needed and my daughter ended up having ADHD and Dysgraphia. Unfortunately, by the time she was diagnosed she was not offered a high school seat at their school

I felt so guilty as a parent. If I had only trusted my gut. I was anxiously running around trying to fix my mistake of trusting teachers over myself.

I took back control of my child's academic journey

I had a short amount of time and had absolutely no idea where to start. Other than ADHD I didn't even understand what Dysgraphia was. The only thing I knew was that they have schools that addressed her diagnoses. While my daughter could not understand why she couldn't take meds and stay in the school. I had to look my daughter in her eyes and explain to her that I didn’t know about her diagnoses and the school was not giving her anytime to figure it out. With each word I could see my daughters world being taken away.

I felt so bad. I messed up. I flash backed to different times that She would be doing her homework and her pencil would stop and she would zone off. My daughter was overwhelmed with the changes in her life and decided to go live with her biological mom

During the same time I received a call from my sons school that they can’t understand him when he speaks do I understand him? At this moment I told the truth and I said “ No , I don’t”  Stepping out of the ideal of being a prefect parent and into a world of testing that required me to be honest with myself about my child's development.

I stepped into the world of advocacy.

When my son went to a new school, this time I knew what type of test to ask for. When I received his test results I highlight everything that he scored low on and contacted therapist and read books. By the time I sat down to review my sons evaluations I knew more about his results than his schools team. They politely shut down all of my suggestions and gave my son a Individual Education Plan  that would have him always 2 years behind his peers. I knew that was not acceptable. I took my sons tests to a psychiatrist who took one look at his report and told me my son had pervasive Developmental Disorder. I had absolutely no idea of what that meant. She told me to go home and look it up. In my research I found a parents blog that described a day in the life of her son. As I read her blog I saw my son. With his diagnoses I was able to get him all of the accommodations he needed and within 2 years he was not only on grade level but he was also 2 years ahead of his classmates.

The only thing that keeps us from advocating confidently is having the information that's needed and time. I created Confidently Parenting to give you information that you may not have time to find. Join my Facebook Group Confidently Parenting Special Needs Kids to gain access to resources and information.

Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse Movie Outing

Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse Movie Outing

When you take your child to see the most popular cartoon for the holidays Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse and they have autism spectrum disorder.

Back-to-School Thoughts

Back-to-School Thoughts

It's August! Back-to-School is right around corner. This is the time that most of us parents start to prepare for the new school year. I start to think about how I can make my boys school year better beyond getting school supplies and  clothes. For a parent of boys who have IEP's I start to prepare for the upcoming school year by doing the following:

  • Review the current IEP and the progress reports- this will allow me to know which IEP goals have been successful and which ones they are still working on. This is a key time to review the goals that your child has not made any progress with and ask the question "Why?" and if it should be revised. If they have completed the goal then think about new one's, find ideas in the IEP Bank . 
  • Organization - its time to reflect on the schedule your children will have during the school year. It's the time think about bedtimes, therapy schedule, extracurricular activities, screen time and homework. 
  • Academic Support- draft a letter to your child's teacher to introduce your child to them and outline your child's diagnoses to open the door of communication. Also, because you will not meet to discuss your child's IEP until a month later after school starts. Opening the dialogue will also smooth your child's transition with new teachers.
  • Lunch!! It's easy to say I'll just have my kids eat school inch. But my youngest son has food sensitivities and will literally not eat. I have to start meal planning !! It's the only way to ensure your child is getting the nutrients they need, and will eat.

Since I'm starting to prepare for  back-to-school  I'm going to post this month about preparation ideas and resources. To stay in the loop sign up for the email list.

School Visit: Homework and Executive Function

My nine year old son visited a school today for admission to a private school that specializes in language-based learning disabilities. Needless to day he was extremely excited about the fact he had a reading class that everyone went to instead of being pulled out of class by himself. He also pointed out that he didn't have to use Lexia Core 5 (dyslexic reading software) since the whole school was Lexia Core 5! 

I was excited that he came home with homework. Since my son gets pulled out of class a lot for academic support his homework is typically reading for 20 minutes and typing. When he visited this school he had an assignment that required him to do research and identify 5 facts which he then had to draw a picture with a caption and then choose 3 facts to tell me and write down. This was awesome since it builds working memory in children. 

Homework is an important aspect of cultivating your child's Executive Function, which is the set cognitive processes that deal with managing yourself and resources to manage a goal. You may ask WHY? Homework actively activates your child's executive function since they have to plan, initiate, manage their frustration, utilize their working memory, and be flexible to achieve the assignment. Just to be clear children who are in school need homework , the length of the assignment may vary based on age. However, completing homework also gives you as the parent the challenge of letting them access their executive function skills.

For example, your child may be 5 and they have a homework assignment to complete. Our instinct is to walk them through the assignment by doing the planning for them. Instead try these steps instead:

  • Read the instructions for your child and talk to them and see if they know how to do it. If they do, STEP BACK! Do not hover over them and monitor their process.

  • If they need help getting started include them in the planning process (steps) to get the assignment done.

  • Remember there is a difference between doing it for them and helping them complete the homework.

If your child's school does not give homework then purchase a workbook or use an educational  app that will engage your child in using executive functioning skills. Realize that boosting Executive Functioning in your child will literally set them up for academic success and save you a lot of headaches in the future. If you need any other tips please comment?!