Summer is coming to an end and the school year will begin very soon!
This can be an exciting time — new supplies, new teachers, new classrooms, and new friends. For most children, regardless of ability, the transition back to school can also be somewhat challenging. Summertime usually means little to no schoolwork assignments and a more flexible schedule with less defined rules and expectations.
For children with disabilities, returning to school can be extremely overwhelming and result in increased behavioral challenges. How can you as a parent or a caregiver, help your child to transition back to school in a way that minimizes anxiety, uncertainty and other behavioral challenges?
Here are some suggestions:
- Introduce a schedule for bedtime.
- Introduce a morning routine. This can include brushing teeth, getting dressed and getting ready for the school day. To help ease into a new morning routine, you can have your child brush their teeth, get dressed and then go somewhere they like to visit.
- If helpful, create a reward system for your child if they complete all of the tasks that are asked of them in order to be ready for each day of school (i.e. If they brush teeth, get dressed and come down for breakfast each day for 5 days, then you provide a small reward that you know your child will enjoy. Create a simple chart that is visible for the child to see, to help reinforce this system.
- Visit school. See if it’s possible for you to arrange a tour for your child to see their classroom for the coming year.
- Create a positive setting for the return to school. Plan a picnic or a snack on the grounds of the school, play on the playground, etc.
- Display a calendar, in a space that’s visible to your child, showing how many more days until school begins.
- Have your child select what they want to wear. As the first day of school gets closer, have your child, if possible, select what they want to wear. The more invested your child is on these plans, the more positive the outcome.
- Bring up the topic of school, as part of “normal” conversation, whenever possible, so that your child can become more familiar with this new routine—during meal time, etc.
- Create a social story about returning to school. This can include, what a “typical” day at school might look like, what they might do, etc. This will help lay things out in a way that your child understands. (Suggested resource: https://www.abaresources.com/social-stories/)
- Carve out time during this transition, even if it is very limited due to having other children, and/or commitments. Deep breathing, going for a walk, reading a book or having your own 10 minutes of “quiet time” can re-energize you and result in you being able to better manage all that is happening now as well as what will be happening in the coming weeks and months.
We hope you have a great school year everyone!