by Analisa Smith
Analisa Smith, Co-Chairman, Affiliate Support/Membership Committee

Students are starting back to school for a new school year. Parents and teachers will be looking for tips to start the school year off right. This is a great opportunity for affiliates and local chapters to reach out to parents and educators with back to school tips for students with learning disabilities.

Review and Know the IEP

  • The IEP lays out what the student should be learning and the focus of instruction for the academic year.
  • Make sure the IEP still follows the student’s need and the accommodations are relevant.
  • Know what the accommodations are and how they need to be applied.
  • A meeting can be called at any time to discuss concerns.
  • It is important that the needs of the student, parent, and teacher are addressed and recognized.
  • Parents and students should be proactive about what needs to be done and received for learning to take place and the learning to be retained.

Relieve Anxieties about Returning to School

  • Talk with the student and discuss expectations for the upcoming year and successes of previous years.
  • Visit the school to learn where classes are and walk the daily routine. Know where lockers and desks are, etc.
  • Try to meet teachers and needed administrators before the year begins.
  • Make sure the student knows the services and accommodations provided within the IEP.
  • Discuss transition periods…transitions between classes, to/from lunch, and transitions between school/home and home/school.

Be Organized

  • IEP meetings involve a lot of paperwork.
    • Summertime is the perfect time to organize all of that paperwork.
    • Keep paperwork in sequential order.
  • Keep a calendar or agenda of events and activities.
    • Parents and teachers should work with students to make sure information is updated and to model calendar keeping skills.
  • Make a time to organize daily.
    • Five minutes an evening to organize book bags or backpacks, notebooks, and papers is important to start a day or morning off smoother.
  • Having a set place at home to place school items and do homework is useful and establishes a routine.
  • Clean lockers, desks, and/or book bags or backpacks on a regular basis (weekly or monthly).
  • Keep supplies to a minimum.
    • Students with LD often do better having fewer items to remember or keep up with.
    • Make sure minimal supplies, without having excess, are available to the student for each class.
  • Color coding class materials is helpful.
    • Students might use the same book cover color and notebook color for each class.

Start a Documentation Log

  • Keep a written account of communication with teachers and the school related to IEP and school matters.
  • Teach the students how to keep a log as well.
  • Information gathered throughout the school year is useful for IEP meetings and planning.

Be Involved

  • Attend school events like Open House, Parent Nights, and Teacher Conference Days.
  • If you cannot attend school events due to work schedules, keep regular communication with teachers through school websites and email.
    • Students with LD need to know their parents are involved and concerned about their learning.
  • Work with your child to determine options to difficult situations – both socially and academically.
  • Share positive information with family members and teachers to focus on positive events in the student’s life.
  • Teach the student with LD to recognize positive traits about him/herself, positive events in his/her life, and personal strengths.
    • Celebrate these strengths and positive things in the life of the student with LD.


In addition to being Co-Chair of the LDA Membership/Affiliate Support Committee, Analisa Smith, Ed.D., is a member of the LDA Board of Directors, State President of South Carolina LDA, and is professionally an educational consultant and distance education professor.
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