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M-SPEC meeting Final 2011-2012 School Year Meeting.

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Presentation on theme: "M-SPEC meeting Final 2011-2012 School Year Meeting."— Presentation transcript:

1 M-SPEC meeting Final 2011-2012 School Year Meeting

2 Today’s Topics General Announcements How to have a fun summer & last minute ideas Transitioning for fall “Animal School”

3 Announcements – Our Facebook Page is now up!!! – us at Millburn-Short Hills Parent Education Committee – Add content, questions, community events, but remember this is a public forum – For confidential postings, use google groups Google Group revised policy for membership and posting

4 Announcements Google Group revised policy for membership and posting. Policy is similar to Millburn-Short Hills workmom group Goal: increase sense of community and build trust Would like your feedback on policy Will finalize policy based on feedback New policy in effect July 1 In need of building reps! There was no rep for Glenwood all last year and no one has volunteered so far this year. – Schools with reps: Hartshorn (Melanie Rosenbaum), Deerfield (Christine Johansson), MHS (Helen Danto). All other schools are OPEN for volunteers. Building liaison is key to parental involvement. Looking to have additional training through SPAN to become resource parent Ideas for programming and activities always welcome

5 Summer Tips Summer “learning loss” or “the summer slide” is what teachers call the regression in skills which takes place in the time between the end of one school year and the beginning of the next. Research shows that special education students, on average, experience a more significant skill loss than typical students. With some planning and effort it is possible to forestall this skill loss and set up your child for a successful return to school in September. Some tips for keeping your child’s skills sharp over the summer: From Friendship Circle website

6 Summer Tips 1. Take advantage of ESY programs if your child is eligible Extended School Year (ESY) programs are funded by the school district and provide academic, social, and vocational skills maintenance to qualifying students. Eligibility for ESY programs is specified on a student’s IEP. In addition to academic and life skills practice, ESY programs can help students maintain a consistent routine and can provide recreational and social experiences. 2. Consider specialized summer programs Specialized camps and summer programs can offer opportunities for students with special needs to meet and engage with peers under the guidance of experienced staff who can facilitate and support skills development. But finding the right program for your child is key. Very Special Camps and Camp Directory are both a great resource for finding summer programs. It is not too late to find camps- usually last minute openings. Very Special CampsCamp Directory

7 Summer Tips 3. Maintain a consistent routine Establish a daily schedule and post a copy where everyone in the family can see it. Knowing what to expect each day makes it easier for children to behave appropriately, cope with transitions, and keep up independent living and self-help skills. It also makes it easier to set aside time for learning activities like art or reading. Short, frequent bursts of practice are more effective for learning or retaining skills than longer, once-in-awhile sessions. 4. Take advantage of summer for experiential learning in nature There are many benefits to spending time outside, from the tremendous sensory input to new experiences and concrete learning opportunities. Weekend adventure camps during the summer months offer kids with special needs a unique opportunity for growth and independence. 5. Keep in mind that education goes beyond academics For children and youth with special needs, maintaining social skills, vocational skills, and independent-living skills can be as important as academics.

8 Summer Tips Review the summer plans you've made to date. – Where there are gaps, brainstorm ways to address them, such as parents rotating days off work to stay home with younger kids on unscheduled days. Post the family's summer schedule. Mark activities (day camp, vacations, your teenager's work schedule, etc.) on a "family size" calendar posted in a central location. – Be sure to note blocks of unscheduled time as well; that way, you can anticipate free time to use as you wish - even if it's just to enjoy a break in the action. Be prepared to be spontaneous. Keep a running list of places and people to visit when time permits and the mood strikes. – Summer - free from homework and tutors - is a good time to stop by the science museum, bike trail, or concert-in-the-park you can't seem to get to during the school year. If you and/or your child thrive on routine, build as much of it in to your summer schedule as possible. Even so, your routine may change every week or so; find ways to prepare for this transition. This may be as simple as mentally rehearsing the new routine (including daily wake-up time and preparation) with your child before the week begins. Remember: Transitions can be hard for parents, too!

9 Summer Tips Tips to Help Kids with Learning and/or Attention Problems Revamp - but don't eliminate - your child's daily routine – A daily routine gives most kids with learning or attention problems a sense of structure and security. While certain tasks (like doing homework) can be dropped during the summer, new ones (like packing for daily swim lessons) may be added. For fun, you might loosen up on certain chores during the summer, like designating every Friday as "Don't make the bed" day! Prepare your child for her scheduled activities – If possible, visit the locations where she'll be during day camp or day care in advance. Have your child talk to counselors, caregivers, as well as other kids have enjoyed those same situations and settings. Have your child contribute to the family calendar – Together, you can determine key dates (e.g., community pool opens for recreation swim, July Fourth barbeque) and have your child mark these on the calendar. Involve your child when preparing for family trips and activities – Depending on her age, she can help you map out driving routes or make a list of the clothing and recreational gear the family will need. Encourage summertime learning – Summer outings may present opportunities for your child to learn about history, geography, and nature. Look for "teachable moments" and encourage her to listen, read, take photographs, collect postcards, and keep a journal of her adventures. This type of learning can boost the self-esteem of a child who struggles in school.

10 Summer Tips 10 summer activities to do with your child that don’t require weeks of planning, a small loan or traveling further than your backyard

11 Summer Tips Backyard Water Park Create your own water park in the backyard for an afternoon of fun. If your child’s tolerance is low for water play, sit them on your lawn (if they are sensitive to grass, put them on a shower curtain or towel for more comfort) and use your finger and a hose to create a variety of sprays for your child to experience. For more active children, you can have a variety of “water rides” including: small splash pool, garden sprinkler to run through, water table, beach ball sprinkler and Geyser Blast Sprinkler. Sloppy Sensory With the nice weather, partake in some “goopy” activities outside that will help your child to integrate their senses. Spray an outside table with shaving cream and let your child smear it around or fill a bin with rice and dig your fingers in. Lastly, create a mud pit to roll around in. All you need afterwards is a hose! This type of sensory play has many benefits. Train Time Most children love trains. Make a day of it and ride the train with your child. Choose departure times during non commuting hours so you can get a seat next to a window and deal with fewer crowds. Bring along snacks to keep your child engaged.

12 Summer Tips Movie Madness – A home cinema experience is a great way to get your children out of the sun for a couple of hours and allow some down time. Instead of just plopping down in front of the TV, make it a production – homemade movie tickets and a bowl of popcorn with pillows and blankets in front of the flatscreen. It will seem like a special event in your child’s day with these little extras. Just be cautious of 3-D movies since some may cause over stimulation. Firehouse Visit – Call your local fire department and ask if you can stop by with your children for a quick visit to see the fire trucks and meet the firemen. This is a great way to break up your day, learn about fire safety and introduce your child to rescue workers (especially if your child wanders). Firemen are often good with children and will spend time talking to your child about what to do in an emergency. Take pictures of your visit and make it into a social story. Soothing Swing – If nothing else, find a swing with your child this summer. Swings are beneficial for physical, social and cognitive development, and they offer certain therapeutic benefits. They promote movement and perceptual skills, spatial awareness, general fitness, social interaction, mental representation, and sensory integration, including vestibular development. If your child has trouble with crowds, visit the park in the morning during summer camp hours.

13 Summer Tips Tent Building – Make “the best tent ever” by pulling out all your blankets and chairs and have the tent overtake your living room or backyard. Tent play can occupy your children for hours. It may also be a great resource to soothe a child, providing a hide-out or quiet place. Place a bean bag inside along with books or a flashlight. If tent building is not your forte, check out some of the tent building kits like EZ-Fort.EZ-Fort Fossil Find – Take a trip to a sandy beach or to your backyard sandbox and bury some “fossils” (a.k.a. painted rocks). Provide your child with a small shovel and bucket to dig up these archeological finds. Afterwards, you can dust them off, just like Indiana Jones, with a paintbrush. You and your child can take turns hiding and discovering these wonderful fossils. You can also work on counting and grouping the rocks once you have collected them all. Pump It Up – Pump it Up is a private indoor arena, filled with gigantic inflatable slides, bounce houses, obstacle courses and more. Franchises can be found around the country. Many of the franchises offer times for children with special needs to work on their social skills and/or sensory development. It is definitely worth finding a Pump It Up near you and inquiring about jump times for children with special needs. Pump it Up Mall Meandering – Need to escape the heat? Take advantage of someone else’s air conditioning by walking the mall on hot days. Malls are cool and not too crowded on the weekdays. It is a good way to keep your child moving and active as you pace back and forth in a controlled environment; less worries about children darting in front of traffic. Stores like Brookstone and Apple offer interactive displays, and a chance for you to take a brief break. A quick game on an iPad or a rest in a massage chair can add a breather to your mall meandering.

14 Summer Tips- IEPs Special Education Meetings CAN Be Held Over The Summer! It is really hard to choose which, among the many statements which violate the IDEA, I hear the most as a parent-side special education attorney. But if I were pressed, this statement would definitely be towards the top of the list: “we don’t hold IEP meetings over the summer.” In fact, I hear it so often that it doesn’t even surprise me anymore, which is why this post isn’t listed under “Ridiculous Comments.” You might be thinking: “but my child has an IEP and he doesn’t go to school over the summer!” I am not talking here about whether your child requires summer special education services, which are referred to as “Extended School Year” (ESY) services. What I am referring to here is whether the IEP Team must meet over the summer if it is necessary. Your child’s disability does not take a summer vacation, and neither does the IDEA. The IDEA requires that an appropriate IEP be in place by the “beginning of the school year.” And, IEPs are required to be reviewed (and presumably revised) at least annually. Therefore, if the IEP last developed before the end of the passing school year was not complete, or did not include necessary supports for the student to receive a Free and Appropriate Public Education at the start of the coming school year, then it may be necessary to reconvene the IEP Meeting over the summer to finalize the IEP. Published on July 25, 2009 by Jennifer Laviano, Esq

15 Summer Tips- IEPs If you are concerned that the IEP last offered to your child is incomplete, or if their needs have changed significantly over the summer, request an IEP team meeting. Sometimes children change dramatically over a summer; and that can include progress as well as regression. Consider your child’s strengths and weaknesses as the summer progresses, as compared to where they were when the IEP was last developed. If the goals and objectives and services are no longer appropriate, then you may need to revise the IEP. Be prepared for “we don’t do that.” Despite the legal requirement that an appropriate IEP be in effect by the beginning of the year, and also despite the right which parents of children with special education needs have under the IDEA to request that an IEP Meeting be convened to review information which they have to share, school districts continue to believe that they can say “no” to parental requests for IEP meetings over the summer. Published on July 25, 2009 by Jennifer Laviano, Esq

16 Summer Tips- IEPs If you continue to get resistance, be sure to document, in writing, your request that an IEP meeting be held over the summer. There is no guarantee that your school district will honor their legal obligations when you ask for a summer IEP meeting, and in fact my experience is that they won’t. Summertime tends to be a recipe for disaster when it comes to special education. If your administration refuses to convene the meeting until after school starts, just be sure to send a letter or email which outlines the person with whom you spoke, the date of the discussion, and the refusal to convene the IEP meeting at your request. Then make 5 copies and put them in a safe place. Sadly, you aren’t likely to get a lot of good services out of school districts over the summer; but you can end up with a number of legal claims if they refuse to convene an IEP Meeting. I realize the difficulties school districts face during the summer months, with staff whose contracts may not require them to attend IEP meetings over the summer. I understand it’s not all that easy. Yet, school districts can (and do) convene these meetings over the summer when they want to. I assure you, if a child attends the school’s summer program, and their behavior suddenly becomes aggressive to the point where the staff can’t handle it any more, they’d be able to get together the necessary staff to convene an IEP meeting to try to remove the child from the program. Even in July or August. Published on July 25, 2009 by Jennifer Laviano, Esq

17 Getting Ready For Fall Create a profile of your child for his teacher. Provide to teacher as soon as you receive assignment. Child can help create if old enough and/or able to Include: Attach a photo if you would like Who I amDescribe yourself/child What are my strengths?Areas they do well in both academically & socially What are my successes?List all accomplishments no matter how small What are my challenges?Describe areas of difficulty both in and out of school Where and when do I need help?List any help needed What are my dreamsLong and short term goals

18 Getting Ready for Fall Create your school year filing system: – Correspondence to/from school – Phone log – All tests, homework assignments – IEP and Behavior Plan – Charting – Assessments, Evaluations, Health Care Provider communication

19 Tips for a Smooth Fall Transition Summer time is as important as ever to maintain a positive relationship with your child’s "team." – Doing so will help to ensure a smooth transition for all in the upcoming school year. For many parents, it’s been a long year and we’re ready to have some down time, but our school work is not over yet. Utilize these tips and you will not only end the school year on a positive note, you will also begin the new school year on the right foot with your child’s team. Reconvene the team several weeks prior to the end of school. – The purpose of this meeting should be to update progress, determine if the student is eligible for summer services, and develop a transition plan for the fall. The transition plan should include, but not be limited to, steps for introducing the student to his new teacher and classroom, a meeting time for the current teacher and receiving teacher, as well as a meeting time for the parents and receiving teacher. Continue to volunteer and participate in school and PTO activities. – Your presence demonstrates your willingness to be a team player until the last bell. Send a note of appreciation to the teacher for all she has done to help your child have a successful year (even if you feel otherwise). Similarly, send a note to the receiving teacher letting her know that you are looking forward to working with her in the coming year. It’s a small gesture but one that will go a long way.

20 Tips for a Smooth Fall Transition Build Your Child’s Enthusiasm for School – Children who’ve had more difficulty with the social or academic aspects of school can be reluctant to return to the demands of the educational environment. The antidote to reluctance is to get a toehold on eager anticipation of FUN! – Help your child stay focused on and excitedly anticipate the people, places and activities he or she enjoys, such as joining a team, seeing a good friend, or getting to wear that new shirt! – Make plans with your child about the first days of school, guiding her to expect the best outcomes! Talk about all the cool things she’ll learn in her favorite class, who she’ll eat lunch with, and how nice the new teacher will be. The more she focuses on desirable outcomes, the more she will want to head back to school! Prepare Early for Changes – Everyone is a little fearful of change and some of our kids have particular difficulty with change because they experience an unconscious anticipation of negative events. – At least a month in advance, show your child on the calendar when school will start. Include a little drawing of something that symbolizes fun to your child, such as a kickball or an artist’s palette—something that he connects with school. – Back plan from that date, writing into the calendar times to go shopping for clothes and school supplies, and setting aside time for end of summer fun experiences such as a day at the beach or a barbeque with friends. – In fact, start this year by establishing a special celebratory event as an end-of-the-summer-tradition that will ease your child’s transition back to school in the years to come! Create Routines – We often relax bedtimes and other routines during the summer, but August is the perfect month to begin the gradual transition back to the structure of academic life. – Start now getting more structure into the schedule—don’t wait until the week before school resumes, or your child will have much greater difficulty. – Make bedtime a bit earlier each week, until your child is going to bed at her “school bedtime” by the time the third week of August arrives—her body needs to make the new bedtime a habit in order to adapt.

21 Tips for a Smooth Fall Transition Plan for Homework Time – The homework routine often becomes an activity that neither parent nor child look forward to. Here are a couple of points to keep in mind to make the experience as efficient and stress- free as possible. Homework is supposed to be easy enough that your child can handle it alone, yet have enough “teeth” so that he is practicing skills he has not yet acquired. If the work your child brings home is too difficult or too easy, speak with the teacher immediately to get the proper adjustments made. Children do not naturally know how to plan, organize or manage their time, work space, supplies or study methods. They need to be taught how to do all of these things. School does not typically teach students these skills, so don’t expect your child to “bring them home.” Your role as a parent is to insist on conditions in the home that give your child the best advantage in developing these skills such as a proper study area, consistent time set aside to do homework, no interruptions from cell phone, computer or favorite music (classical or instrumental music during homework time is fabulous, but nothing distracting). When your child shows you he doesn’t know how to handle any of the essential elements of managing the workload efficiently and independently, you need to put into place a system of teaching him how to manage it. This instruction can come from you, a tutor, or a more highly-trained professional. The point is that these essential skills are learned over many years and don’t develop without close supervision. Keep Academic Skills Fresh – Children need to practice reading, writing and math all summer long to keep their skills from fading. For many of our kids, learning requires extra effort. Long “vacations” from skill practice mean a loss of hard-won learning abilities. The more kids struggle to learn, the more essential it is to include daily skill practice in their summer routines. What’s wonderful, however, is that the practice can be FUN!

22 Have a GREAT Summer!!

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