What I Wish I Knew For Middle School

SERG Parent Feedback - Transitioning to Middle School

The following recommendations were shared by a parent panel at the January 2019 SERG meeting. These suggestions are offered as a resource, not as an endorsement.

Preparing for the IEP Meeting

  • Request drafts of the goals and therapist summaries in advance so you can read and review.
  • Find other parents who have already had their meeting and ask about the experience.
  • Bring someone else who knows your child. This resource can take notes and/or remember to ask key points that you may forget.
  • Plan your questions ahead of time.
    • Does your child need help moving between periods?
    • Who does my child sit with at lunch? Can he or she select a table or does he or she have to be assigned to a table?
    • How will curriculum be modified?
    • Where will my child change for PE?

 

  • Request that your child get an end locker if he or she needs a little more room.
  • Request a directional lock be placed on the locker if your child struggles with OT.
    • Get the lock over the summer so your child can practice.
    • Ask for a 2nd lock, with the same combination, for the PE locker.
  • Ask about changing in PE. Does your child need help changing clothes? If so, a private bathroom can be provided with an assistant who will help change clothes. Can your child change clothes independently, but may get distracted by everyone else in the locker room? Request that your child get into the locker room a few minutes earlier to get started on changing.

 

  • Whenever the building is open, go and help your student get oriented.
    • Walk the schedule.
    • Show the locker room.
    • Find the bathrooms.
    • Pretend to walk the cafeteria line, selecting food, stopping at the cashier and finding a table.
    • Practice the lock.
  • Tour the Middle School. If you want to observe classes, ask your case manager to get that process started.
  • Learn about the potential extracurricular activities.

 

The First 4-6 Weeks

  • Call a meeting 5 weeks into the school year with the Case Manager and/or IEP team to ask how it’s going. What challenges are you seeing at home and at school? How can we work through them?
  • Observe your child’s behavior very closely. Some parents reported their child’s behavior changing (blow ups, crying, withdrawn). The child was feeling stressed or overwhelmed at school but couldn’t express the root cause. Get the Case Manager and Social Worker involved to help identify the root cause and teach your child coping strategies.
  • Listen to your gut. Speak up when something doesn’t feel right.
  • Be ready to educate and be hands-on with the school team in the first few months. You may not have had to do this in 4th or 5th grade because the elementary team knew your child so well. But, everyone is new in Middle School and they need to learn about your child. You are the best link your child has between teaching the team and knowing your child’s needs.
  • Get involved in extracurriculars for socialization.
  • Ask teachers for study copies when preparing for exams.

 

In Hindsight…

  • Accept that this is a transition and it won’t go 100% smoothly.
  • Be the squeaky wheel, especially when something doesn’t feel right.
  • Find a support network for your own sanity.
  • Check your student’s folders each day to make sure you both stay current.
  • Be prepared to help your child with homework.
  • Stay close to your child’s friends. They are your ‘boots on the ground.’

Submitted by Elena Cutri