It’s that time of year again and almost the end of summer. If your child is heading back to school soon start helping your child transition back into the school. My youngest with Autism is starting back tomorrow with his first day as a Freshman in High School! My how time flies! Whether they are starting Kindergarten or beginning High School I have 6 tips that will help your kids make a smooth transition. I always start off first to:
If your son/daughter is like mine, even mentioning the word “school” puts him into a frenzy. Other trigger words can include, “shower” and “haircut.” So to help ease his anxiety I show him a calendar with his first day of school on it. We do a countdown. Very similar to a Christmas one, letting him know exactly how many day left until Santa arrives or in this case, how many days left of school. This tends to calm his behavior knowing that he isn’t beginning school the next day. Gives him time to process the information. 🙂
I can’t emphasize this enough. If you know where your child is attending school, contact them and arrange to meet the teacher. Then take a tour of the school and their classroom. Take your child with you. Preferably when school is not in session. Ask plenty of questions. This will give you, the parent, the confidence knowing that your child will have a sense of familiarity with his school, his new teacher, and most important his new classroom! This is not just for kids entering new schools, but kids who have new teachers or just a new classroom. I can’t stress this enough. It will make your life and their transition so much smoother!
Try and find some social stories that talk about going to a new school. Attending school for the first time, etc. If you can’t find one that suits you. Create your own. They are really helpful. Let them read it at least once a day before school begins.
This tip I feel is important to lessen anxiety and give them a sense of control. Practicing different tasks and preparation for school. If your child is riding the bus to school. Practice walking to the bus stop. We live away from our stop because our house is located in a place where the bus cannot stop in front of our house. So we practice walking to and from the stop. I often give him a heads up. Sometimes pictures or PECS, the name of the new driver, etc. It all helps because our kids are so visual. Also try and buy clothes and supplies way ahead of time. If your son/daughter is anything like mine, “new” is out. So if they need new shoes, break them in way before school begins. You don’t want a meltdown the first day of school, because he wants to wear his “holy” shoes. Also I would not go overboard with all new stuff and supplies. Everything new all at once might mean disaster and over sensory stimulation. For example, this year I am starting out with 2 new shirts, a pair of shorts (we live in a very warm climate, so he wears shorts pretty much year around), and new socks. Nothing else. All his other supplies are in pretty good shape: Lunchbox, backpack and shoes. It will save you money as well!
If you do not have one already, write a schedule for the morning routine and practice it. Make your morning structured for your kids. Trust me your morning will go a lot smoother. I invested in a White Board and this hangs in our kitchen area. I even write a schedule for his afternoon when he comes home. He marks off what he has done and knows he will get his tablet at the end of the day when he arrives home from school. This is his reward for following directions and doing a great job in the morning! Basically he is in control and has expectations. Pretty basic but it works. Folks I cannot stress visual schedules enough. When we discovered them a few years ago it was life changing!
My final tip. Take things one step at a time, slowly. Transitions for our kids can be a challenge. With these tips things might just go a bit smoother for you and your child this school year and years to come.