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Back to School with Special Needs

The night before 5th grade.

This morning I walked my 10-year-old through the doors of our beloved elementary school for her last year there, her 5th grade year.

I know a million other families are going through the same thing but it’s likely they’ve not done what we’ve done to prepare for this day. Our 5th grade readiness program started during the prior year as do most kids with IEPs because we start discussing the next year during the middle of the current one. It’s what we do every year.

She is entering the school year with a teacher she just met. The teacher she was supposed to have – the one planned for with the special ed department months in advance – left to teach in another state and it left us wondering who her teacher would be. She’s getting the new teacher, one that came from a gifted program. It’d be true that I’m a little nervous about that because I wonder if a gifted teacher can follow through on an IEP, can she take note of areas that kids are slipping? Will she be able to work on the IEP goals? The teacher change has added an extra layer of worry, that is for sure.

We do this every year. We start thinking about the next school year in February when we start worrying about the teacher, or classmates or the new schedule. How will the co-teaching work? How many hours for pull-out? How many sessions of speech? Can we get a vision observation in the classroom so they can give the teacher tips? The endless possibilities for disaster, which we think about as we plan.

Yet we walk through the doors with our supplies (a bag for the regular class and one for special ed, thank you very much) and we had over our girl with a fair amount of hope mixed in with the worry. It’s what we do nearly every time we plan for something for our kids.

In a few months we’ll begin the process of figuring out what middle school will look like for her, which is an entirely different situation than just advancing a grade. For that I am in full worry mode and I will be until we have a plan for her 6th grade year.

Then I might hope a little bit.


Not to worry, Rob, our regular Monday poster, will be back Tuesday! 

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