The new school year is starting soon! All families have to face the transition from summer to school, but if your child has learning challenges or behavioral struggles, that transition can be downright scary. Here are some quick tips for getting your child (and yourself) ready for the year to begin:
Start the New School Routine Soon
Summertime is loose and relaxed, but the school year is NOT. All kids (and most parents) struggle with changing back to the stricter schedule. Kids with learning or emotional challenges may struggle even more! Start getting them in the habit of their school year bedtime now. Get them to start picking their clothes and getting ready for bed, and start getting them up at their earlier time. You can work into it (bedtime and wake up 10 minutes earlier each day), but start now.
Start Talking About School With Your Kids
What are they excited about? What are they worried about? Now is the time to have some conversation about it. Let them say how they feel, help them develop strategies for facing their worries.
If it’s a New School or Classroom, Drive by, Walk Around, Plan a Visit
All kids get nervous when they are starting school with a new teacher or in a new building. You can drive or walk your kids to the school and take a stroll around the outside of the building. Even better (and even more important if your kid has learning or behavior challenges), you can call or email your child’s teacher THIS WEEK and plan a one-on-one visit NEXT WEEK. A short advance, “meet and greet” can go a long way toward getting your child ready for the year.
Keep the Next Few Weeks Calm
Some parents think they have to get all the doctor’s appointments and dentists visits scheduled, that they should take their kids out to buy school supplies, or that everyone should go “back to school” shopping for clothes. They don’t! Spread out activities and shopping, and wait for the fall sales to buy any clothes – we still have lots of hot weather to come! Let your kids relax and get ready for the school year by connecting with family and friends, and getting lots of stress-free rest.
For your child, and for you, connections with friends at school and a working partnership with your child’s teacher can go a long way to starting the school year out right. Plan some play dates with schoolmates for your child in the next week or so, or allow your older kids and teens to invite a school friend over for dinner this week. Call or email your child’s teacher and ask to have a phone conference or short meeting before the year starts so you can team up to support your child’s strengths and help him or her handle the challenges. We now know, from lots of research, that all kids do better with strong, healthy peer relationships and that ALL kids (but especially kids with challenges) thrive when their relationships with their teachers are strong. Never be afraid to reach out to your child’s teacher to start building that relationship now.