Updated: Mar 7, 2019
March...the unofficial start of spring, yet subzero temperatures, the flu, and snow days continue. So does school.
While the school year is more than halfway over, many children have reached burnout. Those who have been struggling this year may now be facing full-blown crisis situations. It may be academic or social issues, bullying, mental health issues, or issues at home. Regardless of your child's age or grade or whether there is a diagnosis to date, it's time for a reality check.
Take a moment to ask yourself and honestly answer this question about your child's progress in school -- how are things going? For many parents, the answer is going to be not so well.
So now what? A few steps to consider before the flowers are in bloom:
1. If your child has not been evaluated yet school struggles are mounting, now is the time to pursue an evaluation. This can be conducted by your school district, but if it's possible to pursue an independent evaluation conducted by a clinician of your choosing, this is a far better approach. It often takes weeks if not longer to secure appointments, so start pursuing it now.
2. If your child has an IEP and you haven't reconvened your team since the school year began and if issues exist, it's time to call a meeting. Prepare to review and discuss your child's goals and progress or lack thereof, focusing on areas where new issues may have emerged or where changes need to be made.
Bring any data you have collected including report cards, progress reports, and data from any outside specialists as well. And ask questions so that the district is providing you with the information you need. Remember...what may have been needed in September may no longer be appropriate or relevant in March.
3. If your child has a 504, review all the accommodations to ensure they're still appropriate, but as importantly, ensure that the school is actually implementing them and doing so consistently and across all school environments as well. This is particularly important if your child is in middle or high school where multiple teachers and classrooms come into play.
4. If your child is regressing or failing to make progress -- and remember that IEPs are not solely focused on academics -- ask why. Ask for current data. Ask what they're seeing in the classroom and in unstructured settings. Ask whether the information you've shared with them (e.g. sleep issues) has been shared with all teachers and staff.
While school isn't quite in the home stretch, it's getting close. With several months to go, it's essential to switch from autopilot to taking an objective look at how things are going right now and making whatever adjustments are needed before June arrives. There's still time to make things better so that this school year ends with your child feeling successful.