So the days are getting longer, the kids are down to their last “precious” days of school. Time to relax and not have to think about school for a couple months, right? Well, not exactly.

The fact is that the summer is the ideal time to organize your child’s records and other information. The good news is that if you set aside a little time each week, you will be prepared for the when your child starts school in September. Ideally, you have already requested your child’s test scores, reports, and other records from her school district. If not, not to worry. There is much you can do to help your child during the summer. However, sooner rather than later, you will want to request these records from her district.

Here are some suggestions for what you should be doing:

  • Make a list of everyone that may have information or records about your child (doctors, agencies, teachers, therapists, etc.)

  • Request copies of your child’s records from these people or agencies (You should be able to get many of these over the summer break)

  • Write a letter to your school and request a complete copy of your child’s entire academic and confidential file. You should ask for everything: all evaluations, records, correspondence and any and all other documents the school has about your child. You may have to cover reasonable photocopying expenses. Call your District to find out whom you should send this to. It may differ depending upon how your District is structured.

  • Buy a large binder. You will be putting all of your child’s records into this binder, in date order. Light pencil marks in the lower right hand corner of the first page of each document is a good place to put the date.

  • Hole punch all documents; just make sure you do not put holes through any of the writing on the documents. Make sure you include samples of your child’s work which are indicative of the skills he had at the time. This will be very helpful when pointing to the progress (or lack thereof) your child has made.

  • The oldest document should be on top with the most recent documents in the back of the binder (most likely a report card, IEP, letter from the school, etc.)

  • You should sort by date rather than category – I can’t tell you how often I am in a meeting and referring to an independent “report” while the Committee on Special Education is referring to the “letter” that discusses the report’s findings. If you sort by date, you will avoid this problem. Now that you have created your file, it’s time to sit down and read it.

  • Read your child’s file from beginning to end. Reading it in chronological order will help develop the “story” for you. This will help connect the dots and you’ll learn things you had not noticed before.

  • Next, make an index of the documents. Include the date, author, category and brief description and significance. Now you are prepared to advocate for your child.