Friday, April 6, 2012


Recently I asked some people about topics to write about. I will paraphrase the request here:
We are getting ready to transition from 5th grade (middle school) to a new Jr. High. Now that you have the benefit of hindsight any advice to other parents on anything you wish you would have known, done differently or suggest for others so we don't make the same mistake or have it just a wee bit easier?
Transitioning is tough.  Moving into another school can not only be overwhelming for the student, but the parent is freaking out as well.
When going to the new place there are several things we always did. Rather than jump into the mix of just walking in the building "Hi, we are HERE."
We would show up early, walk the perimeter of the building and talk about the school. "Look at the red bricks, look at the soccer field" Classic comfort level stuff.
Then the next thing is SIGN UP FOR SUMMER SCHOOL. I know you don't want to and as parents we should gt to do what we want.
Guess what cupcake? You don't get to have a life for a while yet....sign your kid up for summer school the ENTIRE Time they are in school. It doesn't matter WHAT they take, they need to take something, anything, photography, art, making a TV show, ANYTHING will do. Your kid needs to get used to the building without you there....they need to know the staff (who the office goddess is- very important), where the lockers are where the bathrooms are.....where the office is. Any advantage is a good advantage and you want your kid to manage the halls and know where they are going.
Prior to school starting in the fall- touring the building after the schedule is handed out....figuring out how to get to the locker, the classes, meeting the new couselor/case manager/social worker (use whatever term you need for your primary contact person). Mom and Dad, you don't get to come- this is your kid's time to go. They have to make it....and they will, give them some credit.
I think I wish I would have known that having a kid in special ed meant that he would be in a classroom with a bazillion aides and a teacher.....I would have preferred that my son shine academically than fall from a sophomore in HS reading level at 6th grade to a 2nd grade reading level after being in a gen school for 3 months.
I think that any 6,7,8 grade teacher that usese the words, "TV", "Cat", or "And" as spelling words is pathetic- special ed teacher or no. A special ed teacher showing up at your kids transition IEP and the rest of the staff LIES to you and tells you she had never been to an IEP before is full of shit.  NO ONE you don't want there should  be there....and you can get up and leave and take your kid with you. We have done it....and gotten into shouting matches too (it took the boy almost a year before he would come to an IEP meeting again).
I think getting into a sport or activity is a GOOD thing. Let the principal or the staff figure it out- you can have an opinion but THEY KNOW THEIR SCHOOL better than you do. Ask for an mentor (student who is HIGHLY respected and very popular) and have that kid show yours around the sport or activity.
GET A MAPS- it is a meeting that is VERY involved. Pay for the private  psych to be there and figure out what your kids interests are and what they are good at. Whether it be playing hair salon or cooking or woodworking or painting....something and focus on that and encourage the activity and do it at home. It is a map of your kids life. Make it happen.
IF your kid wants to be in an IEP, let them. Our boy once had a problem with another student and he felt like he HAD to be there to tell everyone, "I can't do this anymore, please help me." It worked, they believed him and it helped. The kids have to be at the IEPs in HS anyway so get used to it now....ALWAYS ask the staff to keep you informed....too much info is bettter than NO INFO. USE email and don't shoot the first thing in your head back. Read it out loud to yourself first.....then send it.
OH and antther have a choice. You can ask for the "spirit" of the law or the "letter" of the law. You don't get both. EVER. Face that fact and you will have a sucessful and enjoyable 3 years. Ask too much or demand minutes (waste of time) and you are basically shit out of luck. Reason being that pulling your kid out of class means that they miss WAY too much classroom time and on top of that draw attention to themselves. Now is not the time to do that.....
We have had a bunch of mistakes, we have committed unholy faux paux and you know what....most of it is over so fast and goes relatively smoothly and there are a ton of things your kid can proud...the baby is going to school....and getting older and going to do great.
So are you BTW.

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