Focus Areas

Easing transition: Tips for parents of students with special needs

A new school year means a new grade, new teachers, new goals, and maybe even a new school for some students. In order to help ease the transition for students with special needs this coming school year, here are some helpful back-to-school tips.

10 Tips to Ease Transition

  1. Visit the school site with your child. Point out bathrooms, the cafeteria, office, playground, etc. Older students may benefit from printed maps with time schedules. Talk to your child about exciting new classes, activities and events he or she can participate in.
  2. Help your child reconnect with schoolmates. Ask if your child’s school has a buddy system or if students in school leadership are available to help as mentors or guides.
  3. Review Individual Education Program (IEP) goals. Ensure the goals are still relevant and note the date of the annual review. Remember, you can request an IEP review anytime. And be sure to discuss assessment accommodations for your child.
  4. Connect with the teacher. Write a brief introduction about your child (including a photo) with his or her likes and dislikes, social/emotional set-offs, motivators, methods of communication,
    pertinent medical information and any other important information. The more proactive and honest you are, the better teachers and school staff will be able to meet your child’s needs.
  5. Help plan an ability-awareness training. If your child is in a general education class, consider helping to plan an ability-awareness training with the class. Make sure to get buy-in from your child first. Write a story for the other kids so they can understand what makes him or her unique, and things that may be difficult for your child.
  6. Keep paperwork organized. Create a family calendar of school events, special education meetings, conferences, etc.
  7. Continue learning. Stay up-to-date on special education news and legislation, so you can advocate for your child, and all children.
  8. Create a communication log. This will help ensure that you and the school staff are on the same page. Be sure to note the dates, times and nature of the communications you have.
  9. Attend school events when possible. School events such as back-to-school night and parent-teacher conferences offer a great opportunity to meet staff and other students and families.
  10. Offer to help, either in the classroom or at PTA-sponsored events.

Download these tips in six languages:

ENGLISH   SPANISH   ARABIC     CHINESE   VIETNAMESE   TAGALOG

Find out more about California State PTA’s work to advance education about and support the concerns of students with special needs. Additional information is also available from the California Department of Education at www.cde.ca.gov/sp/se.