Back To School Portfolios

I hate to repeat myself, but... the kids are back in school.  
The housewives have been posting about it A LOT here and on their personal Facebook pages.

What you haven't heard yet is how my son, Michael, feels about it.  
He is super duper pumped about this school thing. 

Off to school!
Or is he.

Who actually counts school days?
This kid does.

Michael has constant thoughts about the free time he loses during the school year.
I have constant thoughts about the transition for him and how his teachers will handle him.

There's a whole lotta worrying going on in Prissville.

When you have a child with special needs (Michael has Asperger's Syndrome), you get to meet with the teachers a whole, whole lot.  Teachers love to sit in meetings and do paperwork.  Or not.  As it turns out, teachers are great talkers and not typically great listeners.  I used to teach school and know this to be true.  We tend to be social butterflies.  

About five years ago, I decided to get creative with how I introduced Michael to his teachers.  I make a newsletter portfolio for him!  This provides teachers with a way to save the time they need to set up their classrooms and gives them a visual snapshot of my special kiddo.  It's a win-win.

I'm not going to give you a copy of Michael's portfolio, but I am going to tell you how I make one.

If you don't have a word processing system or something like Publisher, then you need to know that there are resources online.  You don't have to buy anything!  When I searched, I found out that Google Docs has a free newsletter template available here.  There are other options I found here.  Of course you can always email information to the teachers, but I find it better to have something already printed and waiting in their teacher mailbox or handed out by the special education teacher (if this applies).  It will have to go in their file, you see.

The tough part comes next.
What to include?

Since your child is the most amazing kid that ever entered the building, you will have a hard time limiting yourself to one page.  Do it anyway.  Would you read a 5 page essay on someone else's child?  I think not.
When possible, use direct language and even use bullets.  People like things quick and to the point!

Michael's Portfolio always includes:
  • An adorable picture of my handsome son (sized according to whatever space I have)
  • Contact information in order of priority (me first, then the Doc since he's at work)
  • A little bit about the early years (if needed)
  • A few of Michael's strengths (he is kind, he's good at math)
  • What we do for him at home (therapy we try, extracurricular activities)
  • Areas Michael will need help (organization, communication between parents and teachers)
  • Our expectations for him this year & beyond 
  • I always, always remind them that they play a significant part in Michael's young life that will help shape who he will be. Show some appreciation in advance!
You don't have a special needs child? So what!  Any child can benefit from a portfolio/newsletter.  Teachers like insight into their students and this is a great way to open up communication between parents and teachers.  You can always add pictures if you don't have a lot of information to share.  Decide what is important to your family and your child and put it on paper.

Even this cute little guy gets a portfolio these days!

Guess his favorite superhero!

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Mrs. Priss
Helping prepare the teachers for my darlin' like...

I'm also posting this over at the Asperger Mom Network today.  If you know any moms who have a child with Asperger's send them on over!

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