I got this idea from an article I read about how it was so important to record any information a teacher gives you about your child at school or any conversation you have with an educator or counselor, etc. So many people run into problems in IEP meetings and it's always helpful to have written record of what was said, when you talked to someone, when you first noticed the problem, when you first reported the problem, etc. I've been on the educator side of an IEP meeting many many times, and I know that having written observations and records of behaviors and things is so much more meaningful than just, "well, I think he started doing that a couple weeks ago..." Or, "it seemed to help a little bit when we changed his seating arrangement..."
So, I made a conscious decision that when Sadie starts preschool I need to really be keeping track of things...so I'd better start now. And what better time than the new year???
I first took it on a trial run. I took some suggestions on how to do it and then I altered it to make it my own. I think the article had a printout you could download and then you could keep them all in a notebook. I hate 3-ring notebooks. I needed something I could carry around in the diaper bag, or even in my purse, so I started with a composition notebook. You can buy these for $.50 at back to school time, other times I think they're like $1-$1.50. I used to use them in my classroom as journals for the kids to write in because, unlike spiral notebooks, they don't become a safety hazard with wires poking out everywhere! Usually at the end of the year, I would have a bunch of journals that students didn't want to take home with them, so I'd wrip out the pages they'd written in and I had a plethora of free composition notebooks!! Then I'd recycle and hand them out to students in need the next year...but after Sadie was born, there was no next year, so I still have about 10 or so on my bookshelf at home.
I use 2 pages. Most of the columns are on the left side so that I have pretty much the entire right side page to take notes on what was discussed.
I keep track of the following categories: date, if it was a phone call, a meeting, an email, a text, scheduled therapy, etc., the name and title of the person I talked to (if available), if I was called or if I initiated the contact (sometimes, if it's a scheduled therapy, I put the location in this column), the reason for the conversation, what was discussed, and then if it needs to be followed up on (I don't use this last column very much now, but I've left it because I think I might in the future). And for me, I'm not bothered to draw lines to make my own columns...but I understand why someone might like a printable, or to make their own spreadsheet or Word document. I guess you could also keep this as a digital record, but for me there's something I like about using different colored pens and actually WRITING in a book. I also draw in my own calendars, because I like to see just how long it's been since something has happened, or easily remember a date we started a new medicine, etc.
This is my calendar. I don't put everything on here, but the important dates I want to remember I make sure get written here.
Since I've been doing this, I feel more organized. I feel more confident when I call someone and say, "I spoke with ______ on this date and he/she said it would take 2 weeks, but it's been 2.5 and I still haven't heard." I feel like I have more patience, like when I'm waiting 4-6 weeks for Sadie's happy chair, because I have that exact date written down of when she told me 4-6 weeks. And it's fun to look back and see what Sadie did on certain days in therapy, how many therapies she missed because she was sick, or even remember the conversations I had with therapists about certain products or activities they recommend. I also keep phone numbers, emails, and respite schedules in this book. It's all there.
As I slowly (but surely) orient myself to this world of special needs, I'm learning the ropes and figuring out what works for us. And in 18 or so months when I walk into that first IEP meeting, they're gonna know that I am Mom and I am in control, and I am on their side, and I want to see the needs of my child met, and I am going to make sure she is where she will be serviced with the best care possible...and that I am writing down their every move!!