I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the reality is summer 2021 is winding down and kids (and staff) will return to school very soon. *Some of you may have already returned depending on where you live. As I sit here typing, I am looking at my daughter's school uniform order that just arrived and later we will buy the rest of their supplies. At some point, I will prepare for my own return to school, but I am delaying that for as long as possible lol.
As we prepare to return to in-person school and our "new normal," I wanted to share a few tips for parents. This school year will come with unique challenges, but we still want to ensure that we are setting our children and students up for a successful year. One of the best ways to do that is to advocate for your child and be an active (and vocal) part of the team.
Often times, parents do not realize that they are part of the school team, especially when their child receives special services like speech and language therapy. I want you to know that the TEAM includes YOU, as well as case managers, therapists, and specialists. We are all experts in our respective fields, but parents are the experts on their children. We, the school staff and therapists, need your input as we decide the best plan for your child. When you advocate for your child and remain involved in the team process, you can make sure your child is receiving the services they need and strengthen the relationship between home and school.
Here are a few tips for what you can do as a parent:
Ask for an assessment or reassessment. If you have concerns and your child is not currently receiving speech and language (or OT/PT) services, you can request an evaluation. You can also request a re-evaluation if your child has not received one in a few years and you want to see how they are progressing.
Learn who your child's therapists are. Every September, I send home a letter to the families of the children on my caseload. I introduce myself as their child's speech language pathologist for the year and share my contact information. If you don't receive communication from your child's therapist, make a point to reach out to your child's teachers and therapists. Let them know early on that you want to stay connected and involved. And if your child receives private services, be sure to connect your school providers with your private practitioners. This may require signing a release, but your child benefits when all providers are able to collaborate.
Ask questions. As a parent, you have the right to know what is going on at all times. There is no such thing as a silly question. If anything is unclear, ask for clarification, especially before signing documents.
Create a program for home. Children who practice skills at home make progress faster and are able to carry over learned information to multiple settings. Ask your teachers and therapists what you can work on/ do at home to help reinforce skills taught in school.
You are your child's best advocate and you when you speak up for them, you teach them how to one day become their own advocate. I know it is not always easy to speak up, but the squeaky wheel gets the grease. It may sound corny, but it is true! I hope these tips help you get off to a successful school year!
All the best,