Submitted by: Cheryl Esch
Goodbye July and hello to August! Hopefully you and your family were able to make the best of it and take advantage of all that it had to offer. I hope that you snagged lots of memories to share along the way as well. I don’t know about you but it always feels like the end of summer creeps up way too quickly. With summer’s end comes the beginning of a new school year which can be both exciting and overwhelming for any family. That is why when you are a special needs family extra planning and preparation should be taken into consideration to help ease the transition back for everyone. Here are a couple of tips and tricks that can assist with this along the way:
Summer calls for late bed times and sleeping in but when school rolls around all of that changes. If the kiddos have to get up at 6 o’clock every morning to get ready and catch the bus in time, then begin by practicing good sleep habits at least a week or two before school starts. Slowly fade in those early bed times and morning alarms.
Lazing around is all fun and games when it is possible to do but remember that schedules are extremely important for easy transitions as every step of the day is made a little bit clearer. Granted, sometimes change does happen but being as consistent as possible can help minimize problem behavior that comes with down time. Beginning this routine falls right in line with changing those sleep habits.
If you haven’t been regularly reviewing school material over the summer, consider practicing academic like situations and incorporating them into the schedule; this can help both at school and with homework at the end of the day when the time comes. Ways to do this can include setting times for activities such as reading quietly for a given amount of time, reviewing past material, or journaling about summer mementos like photos and toys that you and the kiddos have gathered.
Electronics are a big part of our lives nowadays and they definitely help keep the kids busy on those long road trips or when you are trying to get a big project done for the boss. While they can be wonderful and pretty great at keeping the kiddos motivated remember that it will be important to start limiting iPad and TV time before the school year begins. Incorporate electronic time into the schedule or limit their use for completion of certain tasks and chores.
This next tip is especially important for new schools but still relevant for any kiddo as change is often frightening. Be sure to attend open houses so that you can view the school and speak with your kiddo’s teachers. If it is possible, see if you can do this before the open houses and make it less stressful. Learn where everything is ahead of time including places like bathrooms, classrooms, cafeterias, and offices. Introduce yourself and your kiddo to the teachers so that you can start to build a good relationship before school even begins.
It’s always nice to know that you have someone to reach out to so that you can keep up on your kiddo’s progress regularly. One good way to do this is by establishing communication with the teacher in some form. A few ways to do this include direct communication via phone if the teacher is willing to give out their personal phone number, via e-mail correspondence, and a daily notebook sent back and forth between the home and school. Also, when establishing communication with the teacher this is a good time to review your IEP and 504 plans with teachers so that your child’s needs are clear.
Lastly, I would recommend staying positive! With all the stress that these things can bring it can be tough but it will help everyone get through the transition. Remind your kiddos of the good things that come along with going back to school to help them put their best foot forward. I hope that you have a wonderful rest of the summer and a safe, smooth, and positive return for the 2016-2017 school year!