School has started back up for most kids, and the transition to a new classroom with new friends and teachers can be a difficult one for any kid, but it can be especially challenging if your child has special needs. To make the transition as easy—and uneventful—as possible, planning and practice in advance can get your child accustomed to the newness, and allow him or her to know what to expect—and what will be expected—ahead of time. Doing this in advance also helps ensure success before there are so many other stimulations and distractions to deal with in the first days of school. Here are some suggestions you may want to consider as you prepare your child for that first day:
Meet the Teachers. It is always a great idea, before the new school year starts, to set up a one-on-one meeting between you, your child and any teachers they will have during the upcoming year. Meeting face to face is important so your child feels safe and knows what to expect. This is also a great time to go over any concerns you have and to let the teacher ask any pertinent questions about your child’s special needs.
Picture Perfect. Using a picture schedule to show the morning drop-off routine can prove invaluable. Take pictures, or use a program like BeeVisual to create a schedule detailing out the steps your child will take upon arriving at school, and shortly after. Add in things like, “Hang up backpack” and “Find name tag” or whatever your child’s routine looks like. Having something to visually reference helps to add calm and predictability. Practice this routine a few times before school starts as well.
Small Rewards. I love incentives, and if it helps your child get the routine down, by all means use them! Events you may want to reinforce are a few days of easy drop offs or a successful first week. These don’t have to be expensive, but they can help your child focus on a specific and desirable goal (getting the prize) when there is a lot that’s new and confusing around him or her. Incentives can go a long way in helping your child master his or her routine. I find cars like Hot Wheels and other small toys make great incentives.
These are just a few ideas to help make the back to school transition successful. What tips or advice do you have to make back to school easier for a special needs child?