Talk About Progress-Parent Perspective
Having important conversations while your kids are still in school can be the key to a smooth transition back to school in the fall. This is a great time to meet with your child’s teacher for the visually impaired (TVI) and orientation and mobility (O&M) specialist. Seize the day and schedule a time to meet in person, on the phone, or virtually.
Review your child’s individualized education program (IEP) and talk about their progress during the past year. Note which goals were met and which ones need more work. What went well this year and what was a challenge? Ask your TVI for resources for practicing braille, reading, and math skills over the summer.
Make sure you understand any assessments that were conducted during the year, such as eye exams, functional vision assessments, learning media assessments, and others. Ask if there are any new evaluations that would help track your child’s progress.
Think ahead to the fall: What challenges might you anticipate for the fall, and what supports can you put in place now to help ease those challenges? For example, if your child will be attending a new school, schedule a few O&M lessons to visit and explore the building before school starts. If the challenges are more complex, or if the IEP is not meeting your child’s needs, consider requesting an IEP team meeting before the end of the year to address your concerns.
Are textbooks ordered for next year? Will they be available when school starts? If not, now is the time to order them. As a parent, you can help gather a list of textbooks for the next school year by working with your child’s TVI or the school case manager in charge of your child’s IEP. You can also ask the teachers themselves which textbook they will use. For example, if your student will be taking 7th grade science next year, ask the 7th grade science teacher which textbook they use. Do the same for other subjects.
Share the list of books with your TVI who will order them in the appropriate reading medium. The TVI will need the following information for each book:
- Copyright year
Making sure your student’s books are ordered before the end of the school year is a great way to ensure they will be ready for the fall.
Consider Assistive Technology Needs
If you are anything like me, keeping track of assistive technology devices and cords can be a challenge, especially when they are stored over the long summer break. The key to having assistive technology devices ready when school starts is to plan ahead. Consider the following questions:
- Who will store the adaptive tools and devices my child uses at school? Where will they be stored?
- Can assistive technology be used at home over the summer?
- Will any hardware updates or repairs need to be made over the summer?
- Will my child need to learn how to use new or different technology in the fall?
Think about any practical skills you can work on at home, such as touch typing, downloading digital books for pleasure reading, entering in a new contact on your phone, using the maps feature on your phone, or playing computer games.
Practice Independent Living Skills
Summer is the perfect time to hold your child accountable for taking care of themselves and helping around the home. Your child will have many chances to develop confidence and self-esteem while learning to do tasks independently, such as:
- Making the bed
- Doing laundry
- Preparing a snack
- Taking out the trash
- Walking the dog
Empower your child by giving them responsibility! Talk to your TVI and O&M specialist to find resources for practicing new skills at home over the summer. Other resources below offer quick and easy suggestions for building independent living skills within your daily routine at home.
- MDE-LIO BVI Family Support page
- Calendars and checklists on the MDE-LIO Independent Living Skills page
- Washington State School for the Blind Video Clips on Blindness Tips
More about ECC Summer Addition
Plan for Extended School Year Services
Spring is the time to start thinking about educational resources that might be available to your child during the summer. Many districts offer extended school year programs for students who need additional supports to hold onto what they’ve learned and to build on emerging skills.
Extended school year programs allow students to get more instruction and practice for specific IEP goals. Each district is different, so talk to your TVI now about your child’s options. If extended school year programming was not discussed and included in your IEP, consider requesting an IEP team meeting to talk about it and make a plan.
Summer Activities and Camps
One of my favorite parts about summer is camp! Many camps for students who are BVI (blind or visually impaired) offer traditional camp adventures such as swimming, archery, canoeing, hiking, navigating a ropes course, and climbing a rock wall. When searching your state for camps looks for programs that also offer practice developing skills of blindness in the areas of the expanded core curriculum.
- Independent living skills
- Recreation and leisure
- Social skills
- Orientation and mobility
Sending your child to camp also provides an opportunity for them to venture from home and to learn and grow in a new environment where they are surrounded by other children (and often adult leaders and mentors) who are BVI. Developing friendships with others who are BVI is a very powerful experience!
To learn about summer camp programs in your area, reach out to your TVI and O&M specialist.