As the first day of school approaches, special needs children can experience increase anxiety, stress and fear.
After a fun filled summer, going back to school in a new class, with a new teacher and students can be challenging. Many special needs children like routine, predictability, a schedule and familiarity with their surroundings.
Ten Helpful Tips To Transition Back To School
1.TAKE YOUR SPECIAL NEEDS CHILD FOR A VISIT TO THE SCHOOL
Call the school to make an appointment to visit the school. Try to arrange for your child to meet the teacher in advance of the first day of school. The school visit should include walking the halls, visiting the various classrooms and, walking the playground. With the teacher choose your child’s desk, show them their locker and familiarize your child with the school surroundings.
2. GO FOR REGULAR TRIPS TO THE PLAYGROUND
During the summer bring your child to the school playground to play. Familiarize your special needs child with the environment. I took my son to play on the school monkey bars, we practiced taking turns for the swings and played soccer in the fields. I took the opportunity to reinforce some language, taking turns and, learning basic rules of sports and games.
3. OBTAIN THE CLASS SCHEDULE
Try and obtain your child’s schedule before the first day of class. This is a great opportunity to talk about the different classes. Even though Niam can read, I always create a visual schedule of his classes for him, laminate it and glue it to the front of his binders. This helps with predictability.
4. CREATE A SOCIAL STORY AND TALK ABOUT THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL
Create a back to school social story for your child. Download our FREE I AM GOING TO SCHOOL Social Story made for special needs children. You can create your own personalized social story for your special needs child by using real pictures of them. Be creative and keep it simple. Use the story as an opportunity to discuss the first day of school, expectations, fears and answer any questions.
5. MAKE AN ALL ABOUT ME BOOK
Making an All About Me Book is very important. If your child is non-verbal or has emerging speech this book can be taken to school for classmates to read and learn about your child. Download our Free All About Me Book Here. For children with more language, the All About Me Book can be used to discuss and practice questions the child might be asked by peers or questions they can ask friends in their class. “What did you do this summer?” ” What is your favourite movie?”
6. PUT TOGETHER A COMMUNICATION NOTEBOOK
A communication book between the parent and teacher can be very important. It can be a great tool for a teacher to share with the parent what classes the child participated, the successes and challenges the child had at school. As a parent you can use this information to discuss the day, ask questions and, if necessary implement interventions. As a parent you can let the teacher know how the evening progressed. If your child had a good sleep, if they ate their dinner, were there any challenging behaviours, any homework problems? I personally love the communication notebook to share information back and fourth about Niam.
7. GET READY FOR THE BIG DAY BY SHOPPING FOR SCHOOL SUPPLIES
Make the first day of school fun and exciting. Mark it on your calendar. Create a school supply list with your child. Take your child shopping to buy the items. Let your special needs child pick out their pencil case, lunch box, and all the supplies they need to make the first day of school a success. Let your special needs child be a part of picking out their first day of school clothing. Niam loves the colour blue. Everything is blue. I don’t mind anymore, there are other battles to fight.
8. DRESS REHERSAL THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL
Make believe today is the first day of school. Have your child get ready, gather their school supplies, have breakfast and go to school. Teach them the routine to prepare them for the first day of school.
9. Adjust Sleeping Times
If your children are anything like mine, sleeping in has become a habit over the summer. Start the transition to changing sleep times as soon as possible. Start by waking up your child a half an hour early until the desired wake up time and sleep time is achieved. Don’t wait till the weekend before school starts! Plan ahead to give your special needs child time to adjust comfortably.
10. Parents Destress
Yes that means you. Take a long walk the night before. Do something for yourself! If you still are feeling restless talk about it with a friend. Don’t keep it all bottled up inside. On the first day of school, plan to do something relaxing. If you work, plan to busy yourself in work and not increase your anxiety levels.
Remember all you can do is your best!
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Download Able2learn’s Free Adapted Science Workbooks aligned to the Ministry of Science Curriculum. The workbook focuses on early learner skills and can be used as part of a ABA Program for a special needs child.
Thousands of Pages of Free Teaching Resources for Teachers and Special Needs Children.