Fall is approaching quickly, which means one thing – BACK TO SCHOOL! Even if your child with special needs attended ESY, the full days and routine of regular school is a whole other entity. New teachers, peers, social situations, and many new academics to learn are just a few of the challenges children face each year when school begins. Here is a list of tips to help prepare your child for their upcoming school year.
Familiarize the Route to School
Whether you plan to drive your child, or take the bus, you may consider a dry run of the route to school. If your child will ride the bus, you can contact your town’s Department of Transportation and find out the route your child will take to school. You can then take test trips for a few days prior to the first day to familiarize him/her with the route.
Meet and Greet with the Teacher
Ask your child’s special education teacher if they can arrange a meeting with your child’s regular education teacher a week before school begins. This can be also an opportunity to tour the classroom, locate your child’s seat, and take pictures of items around the room that will be helpful during the transition process, such as the library nook, lockers, and where to place homework folders.
Request Academic Materials
Having a well-formed relationship with your child’s special education teacher is important for many reasons, but for this situation, it would be helpful to request academic material that your child would begin the year reviewing. By pre-exposing him/her to these supports and re-visiting skills from the previous year, your child will have an easier time easing into academics at the beginning of the year.
Play Dates with New Peers
Organize a play date between your child and peers that will be in his/her new class. A familiar playground (the school playground perhaps) or having peers to your house will keep the environment neutral and support your child navigating the area independently.
Re-establish School Routines
Set the clock to school mornings and enforce a school night bedtime. Even if you let your child sleep in or stay up a little later, at least it won’t be as shocking when back to school begins. Getting back to a school eating schedule in terms of time and food selection will also help prepare your child for back to school. If you have questions regarding when snack and lunch will be, reach out to your child’s teacher, and for information regarding lunch choices from the cafeteria, contact your school secretary or check the school website.
Put up a calendar with the back to school date circled. For a couple of weeks prior to the first day, talk to your child each day about going back to school and what to expect. For some children, a social story would be helpful for them to review independently or with their parents. Incorporate pictures of their classroom, teachers, and peers as often as possible.