Tips from the Trenches: Working with Your Child’s School Team
By Hearing First Team August 3, 2017
Starting a new school year can feel overwhelming for parents, students and teachers. Here are some tips to help you work with your child’s school to create a smooth school year transition that will set them up for long term success in listening, learning, academic participation and social interaction.
The new school year is just around the corner and with it comes anticipation for the opportunities in the year ahead. If your child is deaf or hard of hearing, you have a unique set of considerations when planning for the upcoming year. Planning early and coordinating with your child’s teachers and IEP team can help make for a great start to the school year. Here are some ways you can prepare and strategically set your child and yourself up for success:
Prepare Your Child’s IEP/504 Binder
It’s important to remember you are a key member of your child’s IEP/504 team. Preparing, maintaining and updating your child’s IEP/504 binder helps you to stay current on testing, goals and accommodations. It also enables you to keep track of other key team members and your communication with them over time. Highlight any upcoming dates and put them on your calendar. Here’s a resource to get you started! Make sure to include an audiology section.
Discuss the IEP/504 with Your Child
Self-advocacy can go a long way in starting school on the right foot. If your child is familiar with their goals, accommodations and strategies for self-advocacy, they are better able to explain their technology and needs to teachers and peers, laying the foundation for good communication throughout the school year.
Make a One Page Information Sheet
Together with your child, write a short introduction about them and include a bulleted list of accommodations, IEP goals and what the teacher can do to facilitate each. This document can include accommodations such as making sure to turn the FM microphone on when talking to the class, writing directions on the whiteboard and making sure to repeat questions from other students. Here’s an example to use when creating your information sheet.
Email Your Child’s Teachers, School Administrators and IEP Team
Your email will get the team on the same ‘page’. Teachers usually return to school the week before class starts, but they often have a full schedule with administrative meetings and planning sessions. Your email can be an introduction, letting the team know your child is excited about the school year and that you want to touch base for a smooth start to the school year. Include a copy of your child’s information sheet. Request a time to meet with your child’s teacher. See Connect for Success: Building Positive Relationships with your Child’s Teachers to learn tips for getting started with your child’s teachers.
Help Coordinate a Teacher Inservice
You can work with the professionals on your IEP/504 team to schedule an inservice for your child’s teachers. You, your child’s speech-language pathologist, audiologist or teacher of the deaf can present important information about hearing loss, tips for using FM systems and implementing accommodations to support your child’s academic success. Remember to invite all teachers and staff members who will be working with your child, including library staff and PE teachers.
Help Develop a Procedure for FM/Remote Mic System
If your child is using an FM or remote mic system, the IEP should include it as an accommodation. It’s important to identify in advance who at the school district is responsible for locating the FM and receivers, charging the system and assuring the FM and transmitter connects appropriately with your child’s hearing technology. You and your child’s team will identify a specific location where the transmitter and receivers will be stored and charged every night.
Make an Instructional Video
You and your child can make an instructional video about classroom accommodations and how to use the FM system. You can share this video with any school staff member who interacts with your child and make it available for them to review on an ongoing basis.
Make the Most Out of Back to School Night
You and your child should go to back-to-school night together to meet teachers and staff members. At this time, you and your child can:
- Make an initial connection with teachers and staff members
- Provide teachers with any prepared materials (letter or information sheet)
- Test FM/remote mic equipment & assure they are connecting with hearing technology
- See the classroom layout and identify preferential seating
- Walk through the daily schedule and classrooms
- Determine where spare batteries will be kept and FM system charged
Having optimal auditory access in school is essential for a smooth transition and for long term success in listening, learning, academic participation and social interaction. Preparing ahead with your child’s educational team means your child will have a seamless start to the new school year and a positive learning experience throughout the year.