I often find myself wondering what my child actually does all day at school. Although I have his IEP right in front of me, it says very little about his daily interactions, activities, mood, etc. Charlie is now in the 2nd grade and he spends time in both the general education setting of the 2nd grade classroom as well as the separate special education classroom with about 5 other students. Over the past few years, I have struggled to truly understand what his day looks like for him. We have tried a few different strategies to communicate with Charlie’s education team: some have been more helpful than others.
1. Daily Communication Journal: We used a separate notebook that was sent back and forth every school day. I would provide information regarding Charlie’s evening (activities, behavior, concerns, etc.). The school staff would provide information regarding Charlie’s behavior that day, successes, challenges, concerns, or upcoming events. Although this was nice information to have, it wasn’t ideal for communicating much more than a daily behavior report (which was often negative). It often lacked IEP-specific information such as progress on his goals. It also told me very little about where Charlie spent his day or any interactions he had with others.
2. Daily Email Communication: The best part about this type of communication was that I type much faster than I write! It was far less time-consuming than writing in the journal, but I am not sure that my communication was ever shared with Charlie’s team including paraprofessionals, specialists, etc.
3. Daily Communication Form: This form has been most helpful for us because it is individualized. We can select which types of information we want to include based on Charlie’s needs. For example, Charlie really needs to gain some weight right now so we have included a place to indicate how well Charlie ate that day. Charlie is working on using the facilities so there is also a place for the staff to indicate whether or not Charlie requested use the bathroom. We also have a list of subjects that are included in Charlie’s IEP goals (i.e. fine motor, numbers & counting, shapes, etc.). Staff are able to check a box for the things he covered that day. The section I appreciate most is where the staff indicate how much time Charlie spent in the 2nd grade classroom working with those peers. You could also have sections for things like behavior, dietary intake/output, or more specific goals your child has.
There are so many benefits to having clear and consistent communication with your child’s educational team. It gives me clearer picture of Charlie’s day and what is up to. I get more specific information regarding his goals and progress. And most importantly for us, it helps Charlie and I have a meaningful conversation about his day when he gets home!
Written By: Tricia Brisbine, CONNECTED Program Coordinator