A new school year is always exciting for children, parents and teachers, but it can also be overwhelming for parents of special needs children until you have made an action plan. The more information you can give your child about what lies ahead, the more in control and comfortable they will feel in their new environment. What ingredients do you need to set your child up for a successful start?
Get to know the classroom teacher
Meet the classroom teacher ahead of time to get to develop a relationship and get to know his or her teaching style. You should also do some research on their educational background and experience. For example, a teacher with a master’s in gifted education online may be the perfect fit your child. Articulate the classroom rules, expectations and routines to your student ahead of the school year to give them a leg up on it all.
Collaborate with the teacher regarding your student’s sensory needs. Whether that be a quiet reading corner to wind down, tools to increase focus, or calming snacks, be proactive by planning ahead with the teacher for a range of options. Clue the teacher into potential challenges and solutions. Make a plan with them for ongoing communication.
Ease back into the school routine
Help avoid major shock and extra stress by re-establishing the structure of normal school days a couple of weeks before. Ease back into earlier bed and waking times and reward systems. Get ready for the academic year. Reintroduce structured reading time, do a review of last term’s work and small assignments.
Have a friend in class
Before the school year starts, find out who will be in your child’s class and arrange a play date. Having social interaction time outside of school and then starting the year out with a friend in the class can make your child a lot more comfortable. Request a lunch or playground group from the school staff to make social time during school easier.
Involve your child in the preparations for starting school
Let them select their lunch container and school supplies that they really like. Read about clubs and extracurriculars to help them realize the potential the school offers. This can help them build excitement. To reduce anxiety, take a tour of the school or new classroom and other places your child will go.
It often takes a multi-tiered approach to set your child off for success and to keep them on track. With these simple tips as a starting point, you will be thrilled to see how much you, your teacher and your child can achieve together.