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Returning to school can be a challenging time for children and parents. Adjusting to a new schedule, new people and environments, piles of supplies and more. If your child has special needs, this can complicate these issues. Parent Network of WNY is here to help! We have compiled tips to prepare your child with special needs for a successful return to school. Below the tip list, we have additional resources to help you!


Talk about it now: Prepare for the upcoming school year by talking with your child now. Begin to discuss daily schedules, activities, and expectations in a positive and fun way.   

Maintain or develop a school routine: When possible, it’s best to try to maintain a consistent daily routine like what they will experience during the school year. But if you have been enjoying a relaxed summer schedule, now is the time to move toward your school schedule.   

Organize supplies and spaces: Secure supplies that will help your child stay organized and work best. Designate spaces for their school supplies and places for study.   

Parent tip: Make digital copies of important documents such as the IEP, immunization records, and personal summary. Save these files in an easily accessible location so that you can easily send them to educators and other service providers throughout the year.  Parent Network of WNY provides support in organizing educational documents; give us a call! 

Walk the halls: Ask your school to tour before the official start day. Walk the halls with your child and help them locate classrooms, a library, cafeteria, gym, and restrooms.   

Communicate with your child’s team: Develop a good line of steady communication with your child’s teachers and school staff.  

Clarify needs and highlight strengths: Your child’s individual education plan (IEP), while a crucial document, is complex. Introduce the team to your child with a quick one-page reference sheet summarizing not only your child’s needs and accommodations but also their strengths and interests!    

Help develop peer relationships: Discuss ways for the team to bring your child together with others to help form friendships. Ask team members to help identify peer “buddies” and good partners for group projects and activities.  

Encourage Self-Advocacy: Encourage your child’s self-advocacy skills so they can express their needs to teachers and peers. Empower them to seek help when necessary and communicate their preferences.  

Positive Reinforcement: Praise and reward your child’s efforts! Praise your child’s team members’ efforts. And most importantly, don’t forget to acknowledge and praise your own efforts!   

Regardless of age, district, or ability, Parent Network of WNY provides resources that can help support you and your family with all your back-to-school needs. 

We provide 1-on-1 Support and education through resources, workshops, and support groups to assist families of individuals with disabilities to understand their disability and navigate the support service system. 

Additional Resources: Back to School 

Printable Tip Sheets 

We are here for you! 

 Call us:  

English – 716-332-4170
Espanol – 716-449-6394  


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