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Dr. Joanne Meier

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Resources for parents of kids with special needs: Back-to-school edition

August 28, 2013

Parents of kids with special needs, whether a child has learning or physical differences, often have additional considerations and worries to contend with during back to school time. I've gathered a few resources that may smooth over a bump or two and get you started on your advocacy efforts for the year.

NCLD's IEP Headquarters is a great place to start for all things related to your child's IEP. There are several very handy resources, including information about the Fundamentals of IEPs, a video for understanding how involved a parent should be in the IEP process (answer: very!), and understanding how a 504 is different from an IEP.

12 Ways to Help Children Say Goodbye has helpful advice that can apply to many ages and settings. Whether it's heading off to the school bus or preschool, these tips can make for a smoother transition.

From Reading Rockets, some tips for parents of children with special needs — and tips for teachers too!

Parents often find it helpful to write a letter to their child's new teacher. A letter is something that can be read over and over again, rather than a hallway conversation that may be rushed. A letter gives a parent a chance to write down important information about their child, as well as any signs, symptoms, or things to look out for. Obviously much of this will be covered during a parent-teacher conference, but doing something for the first few days of school can be helpful. Here are some tips for writing this type of letter and two sample letters: this one from a Mom with a child with Asperger's and dyslexia and this example about a child with ADHD. I don't think of these as templates, but ideas for thought.

And, because everyone needs some outside time, NPR's Playgrounds for Everyone, a community-edited guide to accessible playgrounds. Hopefully there's at least one in your community. And if not, hopefully the new federal requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act will be supporting one soon.


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"Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them. " — Neil Gaiman