The start of school is always a stressful time for any student or parent if an IEP or 504 is involved. The best way to navigate this is an intro letter. I now do this every year. Teachers love this.
- Teachers don’t always receive IEPs and 504s until the 1st day of school.
- Often times, non-core teachers won’t receive them until much later.
- Schools can assign 504s and IEPs without the parent, so getting intro letters like this shows you are an involved parent.
- Having a photo and a brief description brings your child to their attention immediately in a good way.
I used to talk to the teachers at Meet the Teacher night, but sometimes they are too swamped, or lately due to COVID, aren’t there… so enter the intro letter:
I use one of the “Provider Introduction Letter Healthcare” template on Word for the letters of introduction.
I change the photo to the child, remove the logos, and where the address is above the photo, I put “Ultimate Goals” as in what they want to be when they grow up for the older kids, or hobbies/fav subjects for the younger ones.
“Ultimate Goals” examples:
- Dream: To be a professional musician
- Realistic: To be a band director/assistant director
- Backup: To edit videos and music while tutoring music
- Something in Forensics
- Video Game Designer with Disabled Characters
Anything in Italics is not part of the template, but my notes to you. Feel free to put the verbiage into you lingo and writing/speaking style.
Dear Teachers (include one for each core class and extra curriculars)
My name is [child’s name]. I am a [grade here] this year. You are receiving this paper because I am taking your class. (If a younger sibling, add fluff like, “you may know my sibling so & so”).
My parents and I know the beginning of the school year is chaotic and we want to let you know I have a [504/IEP/BIP,etc], in the event you don’t receive it before school starts. I have [medical/neurological/physical/behavioral/etc] issues that can impact my learning.
[Briefly state if child is open about medical issues with adults and/or peers, or keeps it private. If they have been bullied because of them.][List some of or all the issues, can also say refer to 504/IEP/etc about more private issues.][Include anything that my affect the child on the first day of school, ie: free bathroom breaks, frequent nurse trips, wheeled backpacks, anxiety, issues with new routines, etc]
[if child is open to talking about themselves and is higher functioning, “feel free to ask me questions” or] contact my [mom/dad/guardian type][guardian name], at [phone] or [email]. (Our school system encourages special needs children to advocate for themselves if they are able to once they reach junior high.)
[positive sentence about the future year]
Short but sweet
That’s all there is to this one. I wish everyone luck! Even if your school has already started, it isn’t too late to do an intro letter if you are concerned and didn’t speak with the teachers directly. This isn’t as necessary at an Elementary level when they have 1 or 2 core teachers, plus music and PE, but comes more into play when they reach middle school and higher when they have 6-8 different classes, not counting clubs and extra curriculars.
Communication is your friend. I make an “email group” so if one of the more medically fragile kids is going to have extended absences or surgery… I can just bulk mail. I don’t do blind copy ever. This also leaves a nice paper trail if any teacher doesn’t want to work with the extended absences or says they weren’t informed. Always CYOA, cover your own “tushie”.
Catch phrase here… still don’t have one.