Monday, August 20, 2012

Back to School: Getting to Know You Letters

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I have a letter that I edit and adapt for each of my children for their new teachers when they start a new grade. I have talked about it here: that's-what-happens
This year, SensiGirl has the same teacher as last year. WunderTeacher gets it. She is very intrigued by Sensi's various skills and is a pro at handling difficult behaviors. She plans and thinks ahead, so luckily our collaboration on SensiGirl's Getting to Know You letter for ESY makes writing a new one unnecessary. I do need to update her IEP since she participated in AIT therapy this summer and she will need her hearing protected during fire drills and keep listening headphones off for at least 6 months.
We have to make sure to attend the Open House for Random Guy. I send his father, the Atomic Punk, along since I don't do crowds very well and he doesn't seem to mind too much. That way he and the teacher get to meet, since they usually won't see each other again during the school year due to Atomic Punk's work schedule. It's helpful that they meet him so that when I refer to similarities between Random Guy and his father that they have seen the grown up version and can make connections about where things are going in Random's development.
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Random Guy is going to be getting a full update for his letter as there have been quite a few changes for him this last year. He is still having trouble socially and will need some help with navigating the 5th grade social scene. We have cemented most of his basic math facts this summer, but he still has trouble with the spiraling and looping that is Everyday Math. I have more work to do to change his math curriculum in his IEP. Luckily at his school I have allies in both the school social worker and the principal.
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The letter goes something like this:

                        Getting to Know Random Guy
I just wanted to share some information about Random Guy with you. He started wearing glasses for nearsightedness this summer. He prefers to be called Randy now rather than Random. R. is a great builder and has a wonderful visual memory.  He is interested in American History, Geography and Social Studies, (he’s really good with dates.) R. does well with spelling and is very proud of learning to cursive write. He loves all kinds of Legos themes, Pokemon and Dr. Who. He is a fan of the Wimpy Kid Books and of the Avengers.
He may not look at you or make eye contact while you are talking, but he is usually listening.  It sometimes is easier for him to concentrate when he isn’t looking directly at the speaker. He doesn’t like those unfamiliar to him to touch him or get in his space. We have found that he does better with getting to class on time if he has a locker or coat hook at the end of the row, otherwise he stands back and waits and waits for the others to finish up.
He has an IEP with the disability label of autism, please read it if you can.  In it there is a testing adaptation, R. is supposed to sit apart from the other children when he takes tests. R. likes to know the daily routine and will most likely memorize it. It helps if it is written somewhere he can refer to at first.  R. doesn’t like to be singled out for discipline in front of the class, he would prefer that you take him aside and talk to him privately or at least quietly.  He also has some trouble with reading facial expressions or understanding when someone is being mean to him right away, and sometimes has trouble with bullies because of that.
He will not report a bullying incident immediately, but will tell me or his father later that day, or the next day. If you see Random upset, this may be the reason.
 Please contact me if you need any other insights or information about Random.

Savvy Advocate Mom
h. 523-0966
c. 432-8605
So that is the gist of it. Let them know the good things, warn them about the things that might be issues in school and make sure they know that you are aware of them needing to read the IEP. I also usually call a meeting in October to make sure that any problems are ironed out early.  Good luck with your own "Getting to Know" letter. They are a tremendous help. 


  1. That's a really, really great letter Lori. Well done. I used to do the same every year when my kids were still at school, and also included a bit about what I wanted them to get out of the year (to find school a fun and safe place to be, mostly). I hope this is the start of a fantastic school year for all of you.

  2. I have not done a getting to know letter yet and I'm meeting Toots' teacher today and school starts tomorrow!! I'm so lucky you are here's to guide me!

    I will draft something this morning. Our meeting is not til this afternoon. Great info in yours! And I feel like I learned quite a bit about R through it! Thanks Lori!