When Taylor finished the third grade, I remember feeling so proud of him and so scared for him at the same time. Since he started in the Eclipse class when he was only three years old, he had been at the school for five and half years. That is a really long time for an eight year old.
I knew the teachers and staff there and I knew they loved him and wanted to best for him. We were extremely blessed when we moved to our little town because it was the absolute best place for Taylor.
Now he was going into a new school, though. He would be in a completely new environment with teachers that I didn’t know and that didn’t know him. There would be a whole group of kids coming from other schools who hadn’t been growing up with Taylor since they were four and five years old. Would he be bullied? Would the teachers understand his quirks? Would Taylor be okay?
I didn’t realize it until then but I was spoiled. After Taylor’s kindergarten year, I never worried as much about how his teachers or peers would treat him. I never worried if he would be ignored or dismissed. I knew everyone loved him there, but now? Now, I was scared.
A friend of mine, who also has a son on the spectrum, gave me some advice and it is the best advice I think I could have had.
It was a very simple thing but nerve wracking for me, none the less.
She suggested that I call a meeting and meet with his upcoming 4th grade teachers (he would have two), his resource teacher, his aid, his speech therapist, his principle…basically, anyone that would be working with Taylor at all. I wasn’t sure they would meet with me. As far as they knew I was just “another helicopter mom”, and I knew absolutely no one at that school. The last thing I wanted to do was go in there with all these demands and make these people dislike my child before he had even started school, but my friend said she would go with me to the meeting as moral support and that eased my mind.
Looking back on it, it is so strange how worried I was about that meeting. It would be this meeting that started my yearly teachers meeting before EVERY school year after that with Taylor’s teachers.
My advice to you?
DO THIS! There is no way the teachers can know everything about your child.
Make a list of things you think are the most important things for that teacher to know and understand about your child.
What cues are helpful?
What things are difficult?
What can cause a meltdown?
What can CALM a meltdown?
What makes them happy?
What cause them stress?
Your list could go on.
Let the teachers know that you are their best ally and that you need to know what is going on at school so that you can help them help your child.
Taylor had an agenda that he brought home every day with notes to me from his teacher. In fourth grade it was absolutely necessary because Taylor still wasn’t able to tell me about homework instructions or about field trips or money he needed for whatever. It also allowed me to let his teachers know if his day was starting off bad because his backpack strap broke or it was thundering outside.
These notes helped give a little more insight to the teachers about Taylor and it helped me to put my trust in his teachers.
It is such a small thing. You’re not asking for an essay from the teachers and they aren’t expecting one from you. I wouldn’t advise you to write one either. The teachers time is just as valuable as yours and they have other students as well. Short and to point is enough and goes a long ways.
Will there still be bad days and speed bumps? Absolutely, but hopefully these little things will help make their school year better, for them and for you.