Does anyone else simultaneously think that the school year is going both slow and fast at the same time?

I mean as we wait out current peaks and valleys of the COVID variants and what they mean to the school system the time seems to go slowly.

Then all of a suddenly we are looking at the fact that it is almost Valentine’s Day and that means almost conference time again.?!?!? How can it be here again?

When I got the call from the school that we can sign up soon, I started thinking about two things

  1. I hope that I can get the times I need because sometimes they fill up fast
  2. I remember the nerves I felt EVERYTIME there was a conference for Elizabeth.

For those who don’t know, Elizabeth is my daughter who has special needs. She has SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) and Global Dyspraxia

She has had an IEP since she was in the first grade and the challenges we had communicating her needs made those first few years of conferences difficult.

At the beginning of Elizabeth’s school career, we saw conference night as a time to simply chat, like we had done when we had ones for our older daughter, Emily. We would hear a bit about how the year was going so far, maybe see some of her papers and talk about plans for the next few months of school. Because after all it was not an IEP meeting….

But it was one conference night in her first year that taught us to see the conference night as more than what we thought. The teacher brought up, directly, Elizabeth’s struggles with her day, her need for constant reinforcements, her recess struggles and let’s be honest, many more things.

John and I were not really prepared for this (sad to say). We listened but did not have our IEP with us, nor did we take our notes we had made from home or from her therapist to help guide us. In fact, at one point, I had to ask the teacher if she could hand me her IEP for Elizabeth for me to see what SHOULD be happening.

We left that night feeling defeated and that we had left things too open ended. We didn’t make any real plans for changes or have any real discussions and we certainly did not know what to do next.

I know I learned

NEVER miss a chance to talk with the school about your child.

ALWAYS come prepared for any meeting- Think IEP, therapist’s reports, grades, paperwork, your notes

-ALWAYS try to get the real time report- How are they doing THIS week when YOU have them in YOUR class- Not what you have heard them doing but what you are actually noticing, both the good and not so good.

ALWAYS make a plan for the “Next Step” before you leave the conference time- This way any unanswered questions can be addressed as well as anything you may think of after and wished you had mentioned.

I wish everyone good luck as they make these plans and also remember it should always be a WE where the school and family work together for the child. Not an US and THEM. I hope that is the case for you.

I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Michele Gianetti author of Elizabeth Believes in Herself