Raise your hand if you cannot believe that the school year is half way over! I am sure that a lot of you have those hands up. And I include myself in that number.

My son, Michael was telling me about his grades, how he was finishing up his one paper so that he could get back some points for doing the corrections. He said he wanted to make sure to get all this done by Friday.

So I ask him why Friday? To which he looked at me and said that it was the end of the second grading period. Wow, I thought, no way. Then I thought why is this something I did not notice? To that question I have no real answer. Other than I was just participating in our day to day life so much so that I did not actually notice how many of these days had passed.

So with that startling information in mind, I started thinking about what that marker of the second half of the school year means to me, Elizabeth and life with special needs child.

It is usually at this half-way marker, that I learned to do a couple of things.

To really help evaluate how the year is going, here are 7 helpful tips: 

  1. Look at recent school papers, see if they are showing the advancements that you want to see.
  2. Look at the therapy goals for your child, how do you think they are being met? Is there anything you want to talk to the school therapist about?
  3. Read ( or if you are me, reread) the IEP goals- see if the progress towards those goals is happening.
  4. Talk to your child, if they are able, ask them how they feel about school, is there anything going on that bothers them? Worries them?
  5. Think about how your child comes home from school, are they calm? Nervous? Or stressed?
  6. Is there anything going on at home that might be affecting your child at school? Maybe consider sharing this with the teacher.
  7. Is there any information from private therapist that should/can be shared with the school? Don’t forget, sensory diets need adjusting and sensory needs change, so sharing is so important.

I know for me, this time of the year was one when some teachers and therapies at the school, if things are going well, get on a sort of autopilot. And truthfully, it does just kind of happen. I mean the days become repetitive and time passes. But this kind of check in, in my opinion, allows for a fresh look and update at what may have become rote. (By my own admittance, I lost track of time this year for Michael. )

So please know, it is not a finger pointing fault thing, but a let’s evaluate this year and adjust kind of thing.

And the perfect place to have this conversation just happens to be right around the corner and its name is conference night.

Conference night for us comes around the second week in February. I can remember the first year Elizabeth was in school and we showed up for conference night having done none of the above things, and actually not bringing anything into the classroom. No papers, notes or IEP, no notes from private therapists. Pretty much just us. And it did not go well. We were ill prepared for the conversation that happened and the concerns the teachers shared. So I offer this information out to help others skip that kind of night.

I know many of us check in frequently with our schools and teachers and I know many of great ways to communicate daily, which is so helpful so maybe think of this time like you would the doctor. Just like you go to the doctors for a check-up, you can use this marker of time to do a check-up for your special needs child.

I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Michele Gianetti

Author of “I Believe In You: A Mother and Daughter’s Special Journey” and “Emily’s Sister”