4 Back to School Tips for Parents who have Children with Disabilities
As much as we hate to admit it, summer break is, unfortunately, coming to an end. You always hear parents talk about preparing their children to return to school, return to a stricter schedule, and transition into a different routine with different people. These transitions aren’t easy for every child and for some of our kiddos this preparation needs to happen sooner. These are a few tips for getting your child school-ready!
Whether it’s bedtime, mealtime, following directions for cleaning up, or transitioning tasks, routine is HUGE. Don’t wait until school starts to try and implement a routine at home. Working in the school system I work a lot with helping kids transition from one task to another and that can be very difficult when transitioning to a less desirable task. Using “first, then” charts or a visual schedule is a great way to help your child know what has been completed and what is coming can help make transitions smoother. When kids start to recognize what is coming throughout their day they become less stressed and we see fewer tantrums. When less time is spent calming the kids are able to benefit more from what is being taught to them throughout the day. They can be more successful and most importantly happy.
2. Attend Meet-the-teacher
There are 2 options here and I suggest doing both for some kids. Most schools host a “meet the teacher” close to school starting. You need to go! Allow your child to meet their new teacher, or if they are in the same call as the year before this will allow them to see the teacher in a more personal setting and get acquainted. Some of my kiddos also request to meet their teacher during pre-planning and then again at meet the teacher. This not only benefits your child but the teacher will be able to get a feel for what may work best for a kiddo in their class and as a parent, you get the chance to speak with the teacher one on one and talk about things that may help set your kid up for success and ensure you feel comfortable. Sending your child with special needs to school can be scary and building that trust is crucial for you as a parent. You know your kid best and relaying information to the teacher will help the year go smoothly for everyone involved.
3. give them choices
This goes for all children. You’re more likely to have good results when they think it was their idea. If your child has sensory issues, clothing is a major part of their day. Don’t force the cute outfits if that’s not what they feel best in. cotton shorts, shirts with no tags, or the same hoodie with a dinosaur on it every day, whatever it may be, let your child wear what they feel best in. The cute outfit isn’t worth the fidgeting.
The same goes for lunch boxes and backpacks, give them options and let them pick out their back-to-school gear. I cannot tell you how many faces I have seen light up when we tell them how cool their backpack is and when they want to come to show off their cool gear they will be excited about coming to school!
Use this rest of this summer to practice skills that will help them be successful and as independent as possible in school. Tracing/writing, feeding themself, toileting skills….helping your child gain skills and independence at home is what makes what they learn in school stick. I totally understand wanting to be efficient or not wanting to see your child struggle but trust me when I say let them struggle a little while helping them learn to master a task will help your child gain confidence and independence.
These next few weeks can be critical for preparing your child for the upcoming school year. Start now, prepare your child and be an advocate for them. These kiddos can move mountains, they just need a great team to help them push.
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