For a few glorious weeks each year, classrooms are replaced with trips to the Shore, and your family’s summer vacation makes waiting for the school bus seem like a distant memory. Yet, while it may feel like the year has just ended, it’s never too soon to start planning for your child’s return to school in September. Here are 6 tips to help make the transition successful.

  1. Share your child’s IEP with appropriate staff members. The most important resource you and your child’s teachers share is the Individualized Education Program, or IEP. Provide a copy of the IEP to each new staff member who will come into contact with your child each day. This includes the teacher, the aide, and the school nurse.
  2. Open up a line of communication. Reviewing the IEP is important, but no one knows your child better than you do. The best thing you can do to create a successful new school year is to open up a line of communication with teachers and staff early on.
  3. Provide a comprehensive list of your child’s triggers. Over the summer, come up with a list of the twenty items you think your child’s new teachers need to know most. This might include your child’s triggers and what keeps him on track, social anxieties, and what kind of environment helps your child to do his best work.
  4. Set up an appointment to meet with your child’s teacher(s). Within the first week or two of school, make an appointment to meet with your child’s teacher – by phone or, preferably, in person. Ask to spend 15 or 20 minutes talking with your child’s teacher – or the whole team, if possible.
  5. Share your child’s stumbling blocks. While your child’s previous teachers should provide his new teachers with background information, your personal insights can jump-start the learning curve, shortening or eliminating weeks spent getting to know your child. Insights you can share in 15 minutes could take a teacher 8 to 12 weeks to learn on his or her own. For example, your child may have difficulty following multiple step directions. Letting the teacher know in September that this is a potential stumbling block can eliminate weeks of frustration for both student and teacher, and enable the teacher to meet your child’s needs more quickly and in a more positive way.
  6. Stay in touch with the teacher throughout the school year. Once September has come and gone, it is important to stay in touch with the teacher. Make sure your child is receiving the services mandated in her IEP. Understand what your child is learning every day, and try to reinforce those lessons at home. When teachers and parents are partners in education, children benefit.

If you’re still considering summer programming options for your child with special needs, here are six wonderful camps/summer schools in New Jersey that can provide activities for kids of all ages. Each inclusive program will ensure that your child has equal opportunities to be included in recreational settings so they can learn and play together.

Fusion Academy Princeton

Fusion Academy offers a summer school that won’t take away your summer fun! Middle and high school students can catch up on missed credits, retake a class, get ahead before next semester, or supplement a homeschool program with an art, music, or lab class. From algebra to yoga and everything in between, they offer over 250 courses for you to choose from, always taught one student to one teacher. They also offer rolling admissions and flexible scheduling.

Harbor Haven

Harbor Haven is a unique summer camp program which provides children with a social and educational experience that bridges the gap between school years. In a nurturing, camp-like environment, children engage in a variety of traditional summer activities combined with strong support for the academic, therapeutic, and social needs described in their IEP.

Choosing a Guardian to Name in Your Will

 

When handing your will and estate planning, one of the most important decisions you’ll have to make is who will take care of your children if you become incapacitated or in the event of your death.

 

“If you don't name a legal guardian in your will, the court will choose who will care for your children,” says Alex Hilsen, Esq., LL.M., head of SGW’s Estate Planning Division. “And you can’t assume that they will automatically grant custody to aunts, uncles, or grandparents.”

 

When drawing up your will, be sure that you and the other parent agree with who will be your child’s legal guardian so you can name the same person in both of your wills. “It’s a highly personal decision, so you want to make sure that you’re on the same page,” says Hilsen. You might also want to think about naming an alternate guardian if the person named isn’t able to take on the responsibility for whatever reason. “This may be a particular concern if you have a child with special needs.”

supremeCourt

In an 8-0 opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the de minimis standard as it relates to the educational benefit that students must receive under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA). Instead, the Court reiterated the longstanding Rowley standard in ruling that in order for a school to “meet its substantive obligation under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, a school must offer an “individualized education program” reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.”

In the case, entitled Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, Endrew’s parents believed that he was not making any progress, as reflected by his “individualized education program,” which set forth essentially the same goals and objectives each year. The District offered an IEP to the parents for Endrew’s fifth grade year and it was similar to the IEPs that preceded it. The parents did not believe it was appropriate, so they unilaterally placed him in a private school and sought reimbursement from the school district. The lower courts ruled against the parents. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, relying upon the same lower standard as the court below, also ruled in favor of the District, holding that an IEP is adequate as long as it is intended to provide “merely more than de minimis” benefits.

An extended school year (ESY) refers to educational programming beyond the required 180-day school year for students with disabilities who are eligible. Although every student with a disability who has an individualized education program (IEP) must be considered for ESY, not every student is eligible for ESY. The determination, like all other programming decisions for students with disabilities, must be made annually on an individual basis by the IEP team. Parents are a valuable member of the IEP team and must be part of this decision-making process.

Several factors must be utilized by the IEP team in making a determination about whether a student is eligible for ESY. First, significant consideration should be given to the possibility that a student will regress if skills are not carried over beyond the traditional school year. In other words, if an interruption in the receipt of educational services would cause a student to regress and would require significant time to recoup, ESY is likely appropriate. Other factors that the IEP team should consider include:

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