If you have a dyslexic child in the public school system anywhere in this country (and probably the world) you need to be very organized in whatever way organization looks like for you.
Being well organized is a critical component to navigating this road with success. It is beyond critical to keep notes, names, dates, emails, evaluations, meetings, etc. in a clear and concise manner in which you can access anything you may need on a moment’s notice. It’s also critical as you strategize on how to move forward from meeting to meeting (note: I won’t call it ARD to ARD or 504 to 504, though technically it is, because I’ve had non-ARD / 504 meetings in between the ARD / 504 meetings depending on what I’m trying to accomplish).
I’ll admit that I lead a very organized life (please feel free to faint with mock shock). I can’t stand to be disorganized. When I am disorganized I stick my head in the sand and ignore it until the physical pain it causes me is more than I can bear so I deal with it, with little food and very restless sleep, for as many days as it takes, until it’s done.
Now I work full time, I’m a full time mom on top of that to one absolutely amazing son, I have a husband who likes to ask about a million questions a day, 3 dogs, a full time tutoring schedule for our son (which means 3 days a week), piano, counseling and sports. I cook dinner from scratch almost every single night and pack lunches. I do not work at home but 17 miles away in a major metropolitan city so my daily drive time is 30 minutes to 1 hour both ways, depending on how much life hates me that day. I do have the extreme luxury of a fantastic lady in my life who cleans my house for me because I could NOT survive without her because I love a clean house and my house would be a disaster of epic proportions, or I’d just sleep less.
So, back to my point. A little bluster of a thing called Harvey (and I’m downplaying the severity of the event because Harvey destroyed the city I call home), gave me 2.5 weeks at home with little to do. School had just started something like 1.5 weeks before Harvey came to wreck havoc. We were trapped inside our home, which isn’t a bad place to be trapped really, with power and food (both were huge blessings!!), and were, I hate to say it, very bored. I decided I had a golden opportunity to cope with what I had been putting off which was organizing the prior year’s school papers and updating my son’s IEP (then 504) binder. I spent about 2-3 days, with my son’s help, getting everything just right. I gathered the work samples I needed, scanned in every single relevant page from all of the meetings that had been held, and scanned in all the work samples I had previously gathered so I could email ALL of it to the advocate I had hired. I organized my electronic files once I had it all scanned in and then I organized all of the papers in external files and in my son’s IEP (then 504) binder. It was a daunting task, but I breathed a huge sigh of relief and felt enormously accomplished once it was all done.
I decided I was going to stay on top of it, but then I didn’t. I have specific places that specific papers land and I allowed my son’s school papers to gather in one of those places. I did stick all of the IEP papers in the IEP binder, in order, and at one point in the year did scan them all in, but had not yet punched holes in them and set them in the folder.
As the school year progressed and we had our almost 30 hours of meetings, I realized I needed to up my organization game just a titch. You see, this:
is really an amazing way to organize your IEP binder. I’ve varied the tabs just slightly to best suit my purposes, but for the most part I stuck to the design as laid out by Understood. When I say I upped my organization game just a titch, what I mean is I bought these:
Then a good friend of mine named Lois wrote an amazing article where part of her point was utilizing the summer to get organized for the upcoming school year. She really inspired me and made me think so my head started cranking out a to-do list for the fall. With my to-do list rolling around in my head, I forced myself to sit down and spend an afternoon organizing the school year papers I had not yet organized and got my IEP binder officially up to date. Now admittedly I have some scanning I still need to do and a document I need to mail to my son’s pediatrician, but all in all I’m set from an organizational perspective.
Isn’t it pretty? Yes, all of those hand written sticky notes delineate ALL of the meetings and the individual pieces of those meetings which are important to track. Everything is in order and dated with the earliest meeting in the back and the most recent meeting at the top.
Now I just have to outline my evil plan. (Insert maniacal laugh here. J/J!)
Stayed tuned to the next part of this series as I start laying out my strategy for the new year.