A new tool for military parents could make your child's next transition to a new school just a tiny bit easier -- especially if he or she is a unique, gifted or challenged learner.
A trio of military spouse advocates and founders of Families on the Homefront have put together a free, downloadable set of printouts and checklists for an education binder designed to give your children's educators everything they need to set your kids up for school success.
What makes this kit awesome is its simplicity. Nothing in it is revolutionary, far-fetched or hard to put together, but almost all of it is an "ah-ha" parenting moment (at least for me). That's especially true for those of us who don't come from an educator background or who haven't done a lot of school-aged kid military moves yet.
The binder kit, designed for kids kindergarten through sixth grade, is organized as series of checklists with suggestions for what to include, with an explanation for why. The categories are:
-- Report cards
-- Teachers comments
-- Shots and records
-- Work samples
-- Special programs (for kids IEPs or other special plans)
Like I said, nothing revolutionary here. But most of it is something I may not have thought of on my own -- particularly in the middle of stressful moving when I'm overwhelmed trying to get 17 lines of different ducks in their rows.
I think my favorite checklist in this binder is the one for "teachers comments." Asking your kids' teacher to write his next teacher in his next state or duty station a letter about him? Brilliant! "Have them discuss any of the following that apply," the binder suggests. "Academic strengths and weaknesses, accommodations made in the classroom, notable growth in subject areas and learning style preference, relationships with peers and other educators, classroom behavior."
It also suggests you do the same with other teachers, instructors and coaches. Again: why didn't I think of this?
Like much of the binder's suggestions, they will be particularly great (and maybe something you already thought of) if you have a special learner. But they can still be a useful tool to help with that ever-difficult-to-achieve continuity for even the most average of students.
Using the binder itself is pretty simple says Stacy Huisman, who helped create it. When her son comes home with anything that may fit in it, she files the documents and calls it good.
"The binder reminds parents what to keep, organize and notate throughout the year," she said. "My son just wrapped-up school and he came home with a boat load of grades, terra nova results, samples of work and notes from the teacher. I filed them all in his Ed Binder."
She said she asks teachers or counselors to review the binder and then return it when they are done. She said the next time the team updates the kit they'll be including a sign-out sheet so you can keep track of who read it and when.
Huisman said she just uses a three hole punch on documents that she's including in the binder, but if you're like me and a binder nerd, you can use sheet protectors instead. (What can I say? I adore a well organized binder with sheet protectors).
The team will also be releasing a kit for Jr. High and High School students to help them keep track of records in preparation for college. They expect to have that ready by the end of the summer.