• The Dyslexia Initiative

Starting the New School Year

Updated: Aug 21, 2019

by Ashley Roberts

Well, here we are, getting ready for a new school year to start in less than two weeks. I don't know about you, but I'm definitely not ready! Can I have another two or three summer breaks please? Lol!


So the start of school usually brings with it a lot of questions. How do I manage the meet the teacher night? When do I make my application for 504 or IEP based accommodations and services for my child? How is this year going to go?


So first, breathe. In and out. There you go. Nice cleansing breaths.


Better?


Second, let's just tackle the first day of school and take the other questions in another post.


I like to start off the Meet the Teacher night with a small gift bag. In it I have a letter to the teacher, some books on dyslexia, usually Sally Shaywitz's Overcoming Dyslexia and Linda Mullaly Hunt's Fish in a Tree, and last year I had a bookmark and a small gift card to Starbucks.


Here is the Amazon link to Overcoming Dyslexia:

https://www.amazon.com/Overcoming-Dyslexia-Complete-Science-Based-Problems/dp/0679781595/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=overcoming+dyslexia&qid=1564693303&s=gateway&sr=8-2


Here is the Amazon link to Fish in a Tree:

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=fish+in+a+tree&gclid=CjwKCAjwm4rqBRBUEiwAwaWjjMxS4Uulykufact7egE8ERBegjrstN3tZRD_SH10pS1GOyAUbJq3AhoCcbgQAvD_BwE&hvadid=241614133654&hvdev=c&hvlocphy=1015254&hvnetw=g&hvpos=1t1&hvqmt=e&hvrand=15317452635090749878&hvtargid=kwd-7563018191&hydadcr=22533_10353821&tag=googhydr-20&ref=pd_sl_98i68cqxyp_e


I'd LOVE to give Faith Borkowsky's Failing Students or Failing Schools, and while it's an AMAZING book, I am always afraid the title might be a bit too on the nose for the Meet the Teacher night, so I give it later in the year.


If you do want to be so bold, who am I to stop you? Here is the Amazon link to Faith's book:

https://www.amazon.com/Failing-Students-Schools-Instruction-Intervention/dp/1937615456/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1KU9UP3EO7UI8&keywords=failing+students+or+failing+schools&qid=1564693398&s=gateway&sprefix=failing+stude%2Caps%2C138&sr=8-1


The first school year after my son was freshly diagnosed my husband said I came off like a crazy woman and freaked the teacher out, so I took that note in stride and always make an effort to try to start off super friendly and with a small gift bag. Even if the only thing you give to the teacher is the letter, it's still an excellent way to start off the school year.


Below are some links to blog posts I've written on what that letter can say (or what I wish it could say).


An article I wrote for Brainspring:

https://brainspring.com/ortongillinghamweekly/my-dyslexic-child/


One of my other posts about returning to school:

https://amomsjourney-mydyslexiclife.com/2019/01/04/dear-teacher/


So this next link is going to be a new addition to our little gift bag this year. This blog post came up in my feed very recently, thanks to one of my fellow co-founders, and I felt it was really spot on, and definitely worth sharing with teachers.


https://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/counsellor-articles/what-you-need-to-know-if-you-care-about-someone-with-dyslexia?fbclid=IwAR1vK_8N3kK_tbDJci9F2AfWP3R6Wu3aJBn74mzvbUA6EzGC4GXnnTwUVlY


Another great idea is to create a 1-pager about your child. If you follow any dyslexia sites you will see various versions of this form from Understood.org come up. I'd encourage you to use the version that you like best, or create your own. Either way, a picture of your child and a handy list of their accommodations on a simple 1-pager may make life a little easier for your child's teacher. In the Understood link there is a version for Elementary and Middle School.


https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/choosing-starting-school/back-to-school/download-back-to-school-introduction-letters


If your child is showing signs of anxiety about school starting, here is another article from Understood.org that may help you navigate those tough waters:


https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/choosing-starting-school/back-to-school/experts-weigh-in-how-can-i-get-my-young-child-less-anxious-about-starting-school?cm_ven=ExactTarget&cm_cat=072519_ToolsTipsEmail_BTSprep&cm_pla=All+Subscribers&cm_ite=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.understood.org%2Fen%2Fschool-learning%2Fchoosing-starting-school%2Fback-to-school%2Fexperts-weigh-in-how-can-i-get-my-young-child-less-anxious-about-starting-school&cm_lm=kristinahenning%40yahoo.com&cm_ainfo&utm_campaign=outreach&utm_source=weeklytools&utm_medium=email&utm_content=072519_ToolsTipsEmail_BTSprep&fbclid=IwAR03z5L9F1-bubpsxWcJeDFjwIj2m0KGu473h6L4IgPyTSQIuWW1Ry9qI4E


And, here is an article from The Child Mind Institute that was shared by Parents Resource Network. This is a great list of do's and don'ts for the start of school.


https://prntexas.org/back-to-school-dos-and-donts/?fbclid=IwAR108cKA5rNKij2vJrNap8dwwFY-w3gM3mopTCQ23Vlar3xYaaL4MeaNnMU


The Actual First Day:


I made the mistake once of going on Pintrest and looking up new and exciting breakfast ideas and made a spankin' new super amazing breakfast for my son on his first day of 2nd grade. He looked at me like I was crazy. While he's normally a really great eater, he just wasn't having it (it being a banana split parfait).


I do still like the idea of something fun and new. After all, the first day of school is only once a year so how about a fun breakfast to start it off? Fruity breakfast parfait? Rainbow waffles? Stegosaurus breakfast? Yummy!


You can find some fun breakfast ideas here:

https://www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=fun%20breakfast%20ideas&rs=typed&term_meta[]=fun%7Ctyped&term_meta[]=breakfast%7Ctyped&term_meta[]=ideas%7Ctyped


Lastly, if you're a "Pintrest Mom" like me and want to do something different here are some very different and very silly first day of school photos ideas here:

https://www.onecrazyhouse.com/13-hilarious-back-school-photo-ideas/?fbclid=IwAR1r0HBm9GkU_i4mhvxSpz992K2jVrcgFejuIpawKPP-jU1tYNnm4WZrENs


Whatever you do, make it real and from your heart. It needs to fit you and your child (it also needs to fit your budget!). The goal is to make your child's teacher your ally in the battle for services and accommodations; so try to build that bridge.


And you never know, you may find another warrior for the #DyslexiaRevolution!

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