Parent Tidbits

Welcome Back to School Newsletter

Newsletter Contents

  • Hot Topics - Back to School Anxiety
  • Social-Emotional - What to Do (and Not Do) When Children Are Anxious
  • House Bill 3 and Pre-K
  • Special Education - Help for the School-Age Child
  • FIEP - What is Facilitated IEP?
  • Homework Help - Homework without Tears Blog
  • Transition - State Resources
  • Upcoming Parent Training
  • Parent Help Websites

Hot Topics

Back to School Anxiety

How to help kids manage worries and have a successful start to the school year by Caroline Miller

The start of the new school year is exciting for most kids, but it also prompts a spike in anxiety. Even kids who are usually pretty easy-going get butterflies, and kids prone to anxiety get clingier and more nervous than usual. Parents feel the pain, too. Leaving a crying child at preschool isn’t anyone’s idea of fun, and having to talk a panicked first-grader onto the bus or out of the car at school can be a real test of your diplomatic skills.

Take your own temperature

For parents, the start of the year can be anxiety-inducing. Make sure that you are not passing your stress on to your kids. To help manage your own stress, it is important not to take on more commitments than the family is able to handle comfortably.

Listen to worries

When kids express anxiety, listen to them. Rather than dismissing these fears (“Nothing to be worried about! You’ll be fine!), listening to them and acknowledging your child’s feelings will help him feel more secure. You can also bolster his confidence by helping him strategize about how to handle things he’s concerned about.

Do some test runs

If you anticipate that your child will be seriously nervous on the first day, it helps to give her time to get used to the new school or new classroom in advance. Go to the school several times before school starts. Repetition is good; going by again gives her more chances to get comfortable being there.

Let someone know

If your child needs extra support to make a successful transition, let someone at school know— his teacher, an aide, the school psychologist or the school nurse. You want to let them know that your child is looking forward to school and they will be fine but would be more comfortable if he met the new teacher, found his room before the chaotic first day.

Arrange for a hand-off

If you think your child will be reluctant to separate, it’s very helpful to have someone primed to meet and engage her when you arrive. The teacher may be too overwhelmed to pay special attention to your child, but maybe she has a buddy in the class, or you could ask an aide to assist with the child.

When separation problems persist

Leaving a child who is crying or whining at school is a tough thing for any parent to do. “But most kids are pretty resilient,” Dr. Busman notes, “and we don’t want to underestimate their ability to cope. Most kids recover quickly once mom or dad leaves.”

If your child’s teacher reports that she bounces back and participates enthusiastically, it is best to not worry about the complaints too much to help her become more confident.

Stomachaches and headaches

Anxiety about school sometimes takes the form of headaches and stomachaches in the morning that kids say make them too sick to go to school. If your child develops a pattern of these symptoms, it’s important to get your child checked out by a pediatrician; you don’t want to overlook a medical problem.

School refusal

“Everyone resists going to school once in a while, but school refusal is an extreme pattern of avoiding school that causes real problems for a child,” says Dr. Busman. School refusal is distinguished from normal avoidance by a number of factors:

  • How long a child has been avoiding school
  • How much distress she associates with attending school
  • How strongly she resists
  • How much her resistance is interfering with her (and her family’s) life

If a child’s resistance to school is overwhelming and prolonged, she should be evaluated by a mental health professional, and it’s good to be proactive rather than waiting months for it to pass. “Unfortunately, the longer a child misses school, the harder it is to get back in the routine,” Dr. Busman notes, “because being absent reinforces the anxiety that is keeping her away.”

For more information:

Developing Social Emotional Behavior

What to Do (and Not Do) When Children Are Anxious: How to Respect Feelings without Empowering Fears

When children are chronically anxious, even the most well-meaning parents can fall into a negative cycle and, not wanting a child to suffer, actually exacerbate the youngster's anxiety. It happens when parents, anticipating a child's fears, try to protect her from them. Here are pointers for helping children escape the cycle of anxiety.

1. The goal isn't to eliminate anxiety, but to help a child manage it. Help them learn to tolerate their anxiety and function as well as they can, even when they're anxious. Anxiety will decrease or fall away over time as a by-product of learning to work through their anxiety.

2. Don't avoid things just because they make a child anxious. Avoidance helps in the short term but reinforces anxiety over the long run.

3. Express positive, but realistic, expectations. Express confidence that things will be okay. He will be able to manage it as he faces his fears...anxiety will drop off over time. This gives him confidence that your expectations are realistic and are asking only what you feel the child is able to handle.

4. Respect her feelings, but don't empower them. It is important to note that validation does not always mean agreement. You do not want to belittle the fears, but you do not want to amplify them.

  • listen and be empathetic
  • encourage your child to feel they can face their own fear

" I know you are scared and that's okay, and I'm here and I'm going to help you get through this."

5. Don't ask leading questions. Encourage your child to talk about his feelings. To avoid feeding, the cycle of anxiety just ask open-ended questions. (How are you feeling about the science fair?)

6. Don't reinforce the child's fears. To not unintentionally send a wrong message, watch your tone and your body language when your child is showing their anxiety.

7. Encourage the child to tolerate her anxiety. Let your child know that you appreciate the work it takes to tolerate their anxiety. It may not go down to zero, but this is how we get over our fears.

8. Try to keep the anticipatory period short. Just try to make it as short as possible.

9. Think things through with the child. Sometimes having a plan may reduce the uncertainty in a healthy, effective way.

10. Try to model healthy ways of handling anxiety. Kids are perceptive. Let them see how you handle anxiety.

For more information

House Bill 3 and Pre-K

Overview of Changes to Prekindergarten Requirements

HB 3 does not change the requirements as to whether a district or charter must offer prekindergarten services from prior law, nor does it change eligibility for prekindergarten funding. It does, however, require that all prekindergarten offered to eligible four-year-old students be full day, and that the prekindergarten meet the high-quality requirements adopted by the legislature four years ago. To support these requirements, HB 3 increases funding in general and creates a new early education allotment.

Districts must convert existing half day prekindergarten services for four-year olds to be full day, effective with the start of the new school year. Recognizing this will create a large number of logistical challenges for some districts given the short amount of time with which to implement this requirement, the legislature created a limited process to obtain an exemption to this requirement, but the process itself requires districts to attempt to engage in partnerships with community-based early learning centers.

Special Education

Help for the School-Aged Child

If you have concerns about your school-aged child’s learning or behavior, the first step is to talk to your child’s teacher or the school principal about your concerns. If this step is unsuccessful, you should ask school personnel about making a referral to the campus-based student support team, which is a team of teachers, and other personnel, who meet regularly to address any learning or behavioral concerns that children are having.

Before a child who is experiencing difficulty in the general education classroom is referred for a special education evaluation, the child should be considered for all support services available to all children. These services may include but are not limited to: tutoring; remedial services; compensatory services; response to scientific, research-based intervention; and other academic or behavior support services.

Facilitated IEP

What is Facilitated IEP?

A FIEP is a student-focused approach to dispute resolution. The process utilizes an impartial facilitator to support the ARD committee members in cooperative and collaborative discussions regarding the student’s eligibility and IEP. The facilitator does not represent the interest of any member of the ARD committee, is not a member of the ARD committee, has no decision-making authority, and must remain impartial. The facilitator guides the FIEP process, allowing the ARD committee members to effectively communicate, collaborate, and focus on their ultimate goal of developing an IEP that offers the student a free, appropriate public education (“FAPE”) in the least restrictive environment (“LRE”).

Homework Help

How long should my child be doing homework?

These numbers are estimates, and the actual time doing homework at night can vary with each child’s motivation and interest level.

  • K-2: 10-20 Minutes
  • 3-6: 30-60 Minutes
  • Mid/High School: 60 Minutes, but varies greatly based on class load


State Resources

As of September 1, 2018, a Notice of Transfer of Rights Model Form with Information and Resources is available for use by school districts in notifying students and parents about information and resources regarding guardianship and alternatives to guardianship. Included is a list of government services and public benefits for which referral may be appropriate. A Spanish-language Transfer of Rights Model Form is also available.

A Local Education Agency (LEA) is required, not later than one year before the 18th birthday of a student with a disability, to provide to the student and the student’s parent:

  1. Written notice regarding the transfer of rights, and information and resources regarding guardianship, alternatives to guardianship, including supported decision-making agreement and other supports and services that may enable the student to live independently; and
  2. Ensure that the student’s IEP includes a statement that the district provided written notice.

Additionally, the LEA is required to provide information regarding guardianship or alternatives to guardianship, if the student or student’s parents request it.

Upcoming Parent Training

My Rights as a Parent of a Child with a Disability


The focus of this workshop is to provide parents/guardians of a child with a disability information about Special Education.

Topics will include:

  • Referral and assessment processes
  • Being a Team Member of the Admission Review and Dismissal (ARD) Committee Meeting
  • Statewide Resources for Parents/Guardians

20th Annual Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children Conference

Friday, September 27, 2019

8:00 am - 2:00 pm

American Bank Center

1901 N. Shoreline Blvd

Corpus Christi, Texas

Register to attend by Calling 361-883-3935 or 361-232-5156

Continental Breakfast & Lunch will be served. Door Prizes & Much More!

Regional Parent & Family Engagement Conference

Region 2 Regional Parent & Family Engagement Conference

February 4, 2020

Solomon P. Ortiz Center

Contact your Federal Programs Director/ Coordinator at Your District

More information to come!

Parent Help Websites

A Message from Mari Garza

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School, Family, and Community Engagement (SFCE)

Student success in school is highly dependent upon parent support. The SFCE component of the ESC-2 focuses on empowering parents and families in their knowledge of laws and processes in the special education and strategies to help support their child or family member with disabilities in their educational career.