The week leading up to a new school year can be stressful for any child. For a child with special needs, that week can be downright overwhelming. As their parent or caregiver, it can be difficult to find ways to calm their fears. Use these tips to make going back-to-school easier for the special needs child in your life.
Schedule a Classroom Visit
Many schools hold open houses for parents and their kids before school begins. This is a great opportunity for your son or daughter to see their new classroom and maybe meet some of their new classmates.
If your school does not offer an open house, contact the child’s teacher so you, your child and the teacher can have a private visit. This way, the child can explore their new classroom and school without distractions from other students. For a middle or high school student, this is an opportunity to learn how to navigate the hallways and their new lockers before the school year begins.
Begin Preparing Your Child Slowly
To avoid stress for both you and your child, get all of the supplies you need for the upcoming year earlier rather than later. Aim toward having everything ready at least one week before school begins. What are things you should have ready?
- Meeting with your child’s teacher. As mentioned above, meeting the teacher and seeing the school ahead of time can help the child (and you) feel more comfortable with the upcoming school year.
- Clothing. Some children with special needs have sensory issues, and because of this, new clothes can be unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Work toward finding clothes that are similar to the clothing your child likes. If your child’s school requires a uniform, have your child ease into wearing it before school begins.
- School supplies. With each school year comes new supplies. Some of these school supplies could be unfamiliar to your child. To help him or her feel at ease with their school supplies, do some activities that require the use of the supplies.
- Bedtime routine. Begin your child on their new bedtime routine by pushing their bedtime up fifteen minutes every few days. By doing this, you can help your child become accustomed to their morning wake-up time and routine.
By having all the above things prepared, it can make the transition from summer to the school year much easier on your family.
Review the New Routine
When you meet with your child’s teacher, ask him or her to go over the daily classroom routine with you. By knowing the classroom routine, you can go over it often with your child, so they know what to expect in their classroom for the upcoming school year. If your child has an IEP (individualized education plan), be sure to review it with their teacher. If any changes need to be made, contact the school to discuss any possible amendments to the IEP.
If you have visited the school, take pictures. Capture the teacher, the classroom and other important areas of the school. Some special needs children process information better when it is visual. Use the pictures in the week(s) leading up to the new school year to talk about school.
Need a creative idea to get your child excited about school? Use the pictures you’ve taken as a fun visual countdown to the new school year. This can create anticipation that is positive for your child.
Create a Guide About Your Child
Are you worried about certain things? Create a brief guide about your child to be handed out to their teachers, counselors or any others who may require one at the school. Be sure to note any food allergies or medical needs that the school should be made aware of, things that may set your child off and how he or she can be calmed down, if needed.
Get Yourself Organized
In the realm of special education, there is paperwork, meetings and documentation. To keep yourself organized, hang a family calendar where everyone can see it. On the calendar, write down any meetings, school events or conferences you may have. To help you stay on top of everything, create a binder with different tabs to keep all papers in one place.
Review Your Child’s Equipment Needs
Back-to-school is a good time to review your child’s current medical equipment needs and determine if they need anything new or in addition to what they currently use. If you need additional equipment for your child to keep at school or it’s time for new equipment, the Home Medical Equipment store at UnityPoint at Home is here to help you!
Don’t see what you need? UnityPoint at Home can custom order any equipment. They also offer experienced, professional staff who can help you find what you are looking for.