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Back to School: Getting Organized

The 2014 – 2015 school year is fast approaching!
Children with NF1 often experience difficulties in the academic environment due to attention deficits, learning disabilities and social delays. It can be frustrating for both students and families if they feel there are significant roadblocks to success in school. Fortunately, there are many ways you can help your children stay on target this year.
Set Expectations
When children have a goal to achieve, they will typically rise to the occasion. Set expectations for how you expect the school year to go. For example, what time of day do you expect your child to complete his or her homework? When is it appropriate to play on the computer or watch TV during the school year? insideADHD.org provides Toolkits designed to help you and your child answer these questions and can be used as a starting point for setting reasonable goals for the year.
Get Organized
One of the biggest school related struggles for children with NF1 is organization. Help your children by initiating some simple organization rules. For example, color code different subjects. Maybe the child’s math book is blue so it is paired with a blue folder and blue notebook. Maybe English is red. Color coding will help the child keep track of different notes and assignments associated with each subject.
Make sure that everything has a place where it belongs both at school and at home. For example, have the child place his or her backpack in the same place when he or she gets home from school every night and have him or her put notes from teachers in the same folder every day.
Help your child by checking in daily or weekly to make sure that all his or her items are organized. Keeping things organized on a regular basis will lessen how often your child forgets and/or loses something.
Have a Schedule

Having a regular schedule will help your child know what to expect day in and day out and help him or her prepare adequately for each day. It can also help you ensure that your child is getting enough sleep and practicing good sleep hygiene. Children can use organization apps to track their daily schedule and stay on task.
Consider Services
Some children with NF1 may benefit from having an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). An IEP provides supports in the school setting allowing children access to education in a “least restrictive environment.”  These supports can include specialized teaching techniques, access to technology, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, and modifications to the environment (preferential seating, a second set of books for home, extended passing periods).
If you feel your child would benefit from having one or more modifications to the educational environment, talk with your school. They will perform standard screenings to determine if your child qualifies. In the event that your school says your child does not qualify, please review our handout.
You may also want to consider contacting your NF Specialist to request a formal Neuropsychology Evaluation. A Clinical Child Neuropsychologist can complete the evaluation on your child which will provide you with a large amount of information on how your child thinks and learns which you can then bring to your school to support your request for services.
School should be an engaging and meaningful experience for every child. Through support, you can help your child have a full and successful year.
If you are looking for more information about NF related academic concerns, please review our educational brochures.