3 Steps for Back-to-School Success for Students With Disabilities

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We hope Triangle students were not away from the books too much this summer and at least tried to practice their reading skills. Recently, I wrote about how important it is for exceptional students to maintain some sort of academic structure. If you are one of those families, congratulations; if you aren’t, there are still ways for your child to keep his or her focus.

Baby step 1

Sleep! It supports great academic skills. While getting extra rest at night might seem obvious for some, it is imperative for the exceptional community because they must over-compensate just to keep up with their classmates. Remember, physically, their bones, muscles, and brains must work harder; they are exhausted at the end of the school day.

Baby step 2

Take one day at a time. This is another obvious concept, but consider the range of anxiety that many special education students experience. Students integrated into the regular education classroom will feel overwhelmed and so might their parents. Even students who return to the same classroom could experience challenges with new peers, classroom configurations, or even a new teacher. Parents would do well to email the teacher immediately and set up an “email schedule” for either daily or weekly communications. This is the “honeymoon” stage for students, teachers and parents, so wade in slowly for a smooth transition.

Baby step 3

Be proactive. Plan the annual Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting soon. Gather resources and supports for grade level goals. Don’t wait until there is an issue to complain. Become a confidant and friend to the teacher. It will be easier to make changes if you already have a working relationship in place. Don’t forget to take supplies.

Parents of middle or high school students might also think about securing a tutor or learning center for academic assistance. Even if you feel that your student does not need extra help now, and you are certain he or she will eventually, parents should start the process and secure space as soon as possible. Many times, tutors or learning centers have a calendar in place but opportunities for tutoring fill up fast. Last year, I remember my child needed a tutor for science, which is a subject I couldn't help with at the high school level, and dare I say, not many parents can. As soon as I tried to get help, there wasn't any available. Even at $40 an hour, everyone was completed booked.

See below for a list of learning centers and tutors in the area.

Many students in need of tutors might contact the specific departments at the local high school; even community colleges have a student-list of tutoring resources. Students enrolled in Advance Placement courses make great peer tutors for the special education students.

Chapel Hill/Carrboro Schools

Durham Public Schools

Wake County Public Schools

Johnson County Schools

Wake Tech Community College


*These tutors are a suggestion for academic success and any endorsement or recommendation is not implied. Parents should check references and rates before hiring any of the tutors listed. 

C.C. Malloy is a steadfast supporter of children with a disability. Any information here should not be considered legal advice and counsel should be sought for personal educational guidance. For additional support, please visit her website, Bizigal’s Exceptional Blooms.

Categories: A ‘Special’ World, Education, School, Special Needs