School has been in session for a few weeks now. Depending on the teacher and your IEP you may be getting daily communication on what and how you child is doing in class.

The photo of the behavior sheet above is very revealing if you know how to translate the information provided. As a parent you can use this information to your child’s benefit.

Most parents see all of these sad faces and they immediately want to curl into a ball and disappear. They immediately believe their child’s placement will be questioned, or that this was ‘evidence’ that their child doesn’t belong in an inclusive classroom.

I see it much differently–this teacher just told the mother IN WRITING that her child is having a hard time with transitions! 

  • Refused to leave the bathroom hallway
  • Refused to come to the table for snack
  • And more refusals to change activities.

I don’t know what supports this child has but this is evidence that the child needs additional supports and accommodations.

What supports? What accommodations?

A classroom assistant–if one doesn’t already exist.

A visual schedule so the child knows what is coming next.

A verbal cue that the current activity is about to end, and a new one will start so the child has time to mentally prepare to stop what he/she is going and be able to move to the next activity.

This parent can ask for a district behavior specialist to observe and prepare a list of accommodations — but the mother can also share what works at home when her child is transitioning.

Sean had a really hard time transitioning. Once we introduced a visual schedule that included photos or drawings he was able to mentally prepare, and transitions were less of a struggle.   We also had the teacher or aide verbally cue him, “In five minutes math is going to end and then we are going to start writing.”

“Recess is over in 5 minutes then we are going to go to the library.”


Both the visual schedule and the verbal prompts allowed Sean to mentally shift gears from what he was doing and start to think of what was next.

Think of it like this. You are in the middle of your favorite television show (before we recorded everything)  your husband comes in and says, “We have to go over to the neighbors house right this minute.”

    Really? Would you be mad that you couldn’t finish watching your show? Why didn’t he tell you about going to the neighbor’s house sooner? Most of us would say “go without me, I’m in the middle of my show. What’s so important at the neighbor’s house anyway?” But in school our children don’t have the verbal skills to tell someone why they aren’t stopping their activity,(I’m not finished. I don’t know what’s next.) and they don’t have the freedom to choose to not transition either.

Today I still give Sean a verbal cue “Dinner will be ready in 10 minutes so finish your video game.”  If I don’t, then he tells me he’s in the middle of saving a princess. And he won’t stop playing until he mentally transitions and reaches a practical place to pause the game and stop.

     When you get a behavior sheet that has negative information on it–don’t curl up in a ball and worry your child is going to be removed from their inclusive setting. Use the information as evidence of the supports they need to succeed.

     If you aren’t receiving any communication from your child’s teacher don’t think silence is golden.

NOvember is the magic month where they call an IEP and blind-side you with the laundry list of everything your child has done wrong all year.  By then the bad habits of avoidance have become reinforced  and are harder to break.  Communication is critical for parents to continue to be a partner in their child’s education and without the information you have no idea what additional supports your child may need to be successful.

     Always remember Behavior Equals Communication and our kids don’t just decide to be bad, they are usually trying to communicate that they don’t know what to do or they don’t know how to do it, it’s too hard and they need additional modifications and accommodations.

Go forth and advocate!

Need a sample communication Log? Here’s two websites with examples:

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