We're switching him to a private school with smaller classrooms and individual help if needed. They also require participation in sports. They are not mandated to provide special education services since they are not a public school. Do you feel the smaller classrooms and individual attention will help him to stay on track or are we in for the same troubles as last year? What can we do to help him have a successful school year in this new environment?
Try these steps to make the transition to a new school easier:
Contact his new school early and see if it has a study skills course for students. Many schools start this kind of support in fifth or sixth grades because they know that students have trouble mastering the levels of independence that are necessary at this time. You can also check summer school or community centers to see if they offer courses like this. Ask if there is a planner that students use regularly that can be checked by someone at home and at school to see if assignments are being recorded.
There are some excellent books and videos available that can make this transition easier. Have a look at Leslie Davis and Sandi Sirotowitz's book and video, Study Strategies Made Easy: A Practical Plan for School Success or Sandra Rief's How to Reach and Teach ADD/ADHD Children. Both offer excellent ideas for time management and organization skills.
Meet with your son's teachers early so that they see that you are serious about your role as part of the team working together to support your child. Ask that you be informed as soon as any problems occur so that you can work together to nip them in the bud.
If your son is having difficulty doing his homework because he lacks the skills necessary to complete it successfully, it will be critical for you to make sure he has the support necessary to develop those skills. If his school does not offer the regular help of a learning specialist, then you will need to provide outside support for him. Call the toll-free number of the Learning Disabilities Association (1-888-300-6710) to see if there's a branch of this advocacy group in your community. They should have a list of recommended tutors. Many branches also hold regular meetings for parents to offer support and information. You can also try the Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities at 1-888-GR8-MIND or the National Center for Learning Disabilities at 1-800-575-7373 for referrals.
The most important thing to remember during this transition is to be proactive and not just reactive. Your son will make a much easier transition if supports are put in place early and are modified or supplemented as the need occurs during the year.