Transition and change for kids of all ages isn’t always easy. Transitioning from a long summer break back into the old school routine is harder yet. For children and older kids with disabilities, the back to school transition can be intensely challenging for the entire family. Here are some tips that helped us get back in gear for school routines!
Summer vacations allow our kids a lot more freedom outside of day and evening routines, and it’s tough to break them out of their later sleep habits. About a week or two before school starts, slowly adjust bedtimes to match the intended times for school nights – even on the weekends. We all have internal body clocks that are preset to know when it’s time to go to sleep and when it’s time to wake-up. This strategy will help to get your child’s body clock back in gear for school!
Every year we get supply lists from our children’s schools, and often some of these items are the same year after year. I can’t tell you how many boxes of crayons, glue sticks, markers, pencils and pens I’ve found in the desks, drawers, or closets of my kids (some of them never used!). Organize your child’s room to be study friendly and prepared for the new year. You might be surprised about how many supply items you might be able to check off your list before you go shopping!
Your summer break and school-day routines are as different as night and day. To help keep things running smoothly and so everyone in the home knows what is expected of them, create a visual calendar, chore board, or schedule board illustrating those changes.
I have a son with autism who has very limited speech. I created an “About Richie” book and updated it every year when he was younger or as often as I needed to. Creating a book that provides specific information about your child’s likes, dislikes, eating habits, behavioral issues, areas in need of assistance, learning preferences and more will help your child’s teacher understand and adhere to your child’s needs. I've changed things a bit as he got older (About Me 2nd Version). He's been attending the same school since he was 4, so everyone pretty much knows him well. Remember, it doesn't have to be fancy, you can use this All About Me template!
Together with you child, review grades, IEP goals and accomplishments, and the positive behavior support plan if you have one. Celebrate accomplishments together and think about areas in need of improvement that will be areas of focus.
There’s no better way to kick off the start of a new school year by asking your child to write about their summer. You can use this “About my Summer” template to help your child write about their summer experience. If your child was required to read a book over the summer, have him or her write a report about the book. Here are a couple of sample templates I use with my youngest son who is in middle school (book report, chapter report). I ask him to write a chapter report on a book he’s reading to help strengthen his comprehension and writing skills.
The start of a new school year can be nerve wrecking for both parents and their children. It truly doesn’t have to be. Every school year offers children and their parents the opportunity to learn new things, have new experiences, make new friends, and contribute to school events and activities. Each year offers us the fresh start of something new. A new year to strengthen, rebuild or start new relationships. A whole new year to try and be our very best!
Sincerely, Christine SensoryFriends
Author: Christine Goulbourne