SEEING THE BIG PICTURE: Create a binder of your child’s records for the ultimate collaboration tool April 28, 2016

By Susan C. Stone and Mary Jo O’Neill 

When you have a child with special education needs, it’s easy to  get buried in paperwork. It is also difficult to stay on top of the services your child requires and meetings can be derailed when you waste time searching for past notes or even have to reschedule because you can’t find the right information. Thus, organization is critical to successfully managing your child’s case.

Fortunately, there is a tool that can simplify your life and help you get better services for your child – a binder. By creating a binder with your child’s current records and documentation, you have all the information you need at your fingertips. You will be able to quickly glance through the binder to obtain a clear picture to discern academic progress.

Here is how to get started building a binder for your child’s special education needs.

First, gather the following information:

  • Individualized Educational Programs (IEP’s).
  • Evaluations by the school system and by independent evaluators. Depending on your child, these could include educational, psychological and/or neuropsychological, speech and language, occupational therapy, and physical therapy evaluations.
  • Medical records. You will only need those that relate to the disability or disabilities that affect his ability to learn or to access school programs and facilities.
  • Progress reports and report cards.
  • Standardized test results.
  • Documents and notes on your child’s behavior or progress. These could be notes between you and the teacher or with other service providers – and it should definitely include your emails or notes on any conversations or meetings that take place to discuss your child’s education plan or any behavioral concerns.
  • Correspondence. Save any notes or emails between you and the teachers, special education administrators, and evaluators.
  • Formal notices of meetings scheduled to discuss your child.
  • Samples of schoolwork. This will help you compare progress your child has made in different academic areas.

Second, organize each group of information by date and create a tab for it in the binder.

Finally, once you have your binder, take some time to review each section so you can see the big picture and can confidently assess how your child is doing today. This binder will become the best resource to help you collaborate more effectively with all the educators and service providers involved in your child’s care.   Also, should you need to consult with an attorney, the binder will allow counsel to understand your case without wasting any time.

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