Time to prepare for the New School Year
It’s exhilarating and stressful to start a new school year. There are numerous factors to consider when your child requires additional support; this can be overwhelming. Every family’s situation is different, necessitating the use of a student-centered strategy. Like previous years, return to school is likely accompanied by a lot of uncertainties. We want all parents and caregivers to understand that every child has a right to attend school and to have equitable access to high-quality education. Read more about the right to education in this short article from Inclusive Education Canada.
With the right assistance and accommodations, Inclusive education welcomes all kids into regular classes with peers, in their community, and with equal opportunity to learn, contribute, and participate in all facets of school life.
We have a few suggestions that can help you get started based on the lessons we’ve learned from helping hundreds of families advocate for their kids’ access to an inclusive school. While some can wait, some of them can be completed as the new school year begins. Take your time and be aware that help is available.
Where to start:
1. Write a one-page profile about your child for the school team
Share who they are, what they like, and how to best support them. Have fun and add a photo or a drawing.
Here are a few examples:
- myBooklet BC is a free online resource, created by a parent.
- Examples of one-page profile in education
- Templates of one-page profile
2. Learn the names and contact information of the school team
You can ask at your school or sometimes the school website will have this information. *Some of these names and titles will be a little different in each district
Here are some people to get to know:
- EA (Education Assistant)
- Resource Teacher and/or Learning Support Teacher
- Principal and/or Vice Principal
There are roles and responsibilities of everyone in the system. Knowing what these are will help to know who you should speak to about your concerns and ideas.
3. Learn (or refresh your knowledge) what an Individual Education Plan (IEP) is
Your child’s learning will be shaped for the year by an IEP, and it is important to keep it up to date. IEP meetings are often held in October or November. Each school year, the IEP must be reviewed at least once, and changes may be made as needed. To find out more about the IEP format used by your school district, your school administrator or district office.
Here are some IEP resources:
- POPARD Video IEP’s a parent perspective
- IEP Parent Guide from BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils
- IEP Template example from a School District
- Video about IEP goals from the Five Moore Minutes video series by Shelley Moore
- Chapter 5 of our Parent’s Handbook on Inclusive Education
4. Check out informative videos or short articles
There are a variety of resources about what school might be like for your child, how you can help, or get more information.
Here are a few to start with:
- Strategies for a Successful Kindergarten Year is a short film about a parent helping their child successfully transition and succeed in their first year at school.* POPARD focuses on Autism, however the ideas and strategies can be helpful for many students with support needs
- Exercising Self Determination in our Schools is a short film from our Inclusive Education series.
- Social Emotional Health from BC Centre for Ability shares information and a video about promoting social emotional health in school aged children.
- Alexander Magnussen’s TEDx talk on what worked for him in school and what did not.
5. Reach out when needed
If back to school this year feels challenging, please reach out for support.
Here are a few ideas:
- Exclusion Tracker if your child is being excluded, we encourage you to fill in BCEDAccess’ Exclusion Tracker. They are collecting data to document experiences of exclusion in B.C.
- Family support – there are several peer networks you can connect with like the Family Support Institute of BC which is a provincial volunteer parent network or Family Smart with Parent Peer supporters.
- If your child is diagnosed with Autism, POPARD is a wonderful resource. We recommend reaching out to their Family School Liaison.
- Advocacy support – at Inclusion BC we are here to help. You can connect with one of our Community Inclusion Advocates through our Advocacy Line by emailing email@example.com, or calling 1-844-488-4321.
There is always more to discover and do. This is a solid beginning. Remember to take it one step at a time and make it doable for you.
Please think about sharing this information with your networks if you found it useful.