By Angela Bricker, Ed.D, BCBA-D
Hopefully everyone has had an enjoyable summer and you have been able to get some rest and have some fun! Now, just as your children are getting adjusted to their summer routines…it is time to switch it up again.
As your child begins the transition back to school, you may find that there are new challenges that come with the new school year. Does your child have a new teacher or a new school? How long have they been away from their routine? Do they need new clothes, new shoes, new supplies, etc.?
For some parents, getting their children back into the school routine is a blessing. But for parents whose kids are faced with new school environments, new teachers, or a school year beginning when the last one didn’t end on a good note, it can make a parent want to throw a tantrum.
Here are some tips to help you and your child get through the back to school blues:
- Create a social story or picture schedule for school routines. Start reviewing this a few weeks in advance.
- Work with the teacher or a behavior specialist to create a reinforcement system. Use this system to reward your child for positive days, especially during the transition back.
- Arrange a visit to the school and to meet the teacher before the first day. Walk the halls and familiarize your child with the school. Giving your child a visual of their room, locker, or desk can help ease anxieties that they may have.
- Promote communication with previous teachers. Have them share information on known behavior problems and strategies that worked well, as well as teaching techniques that were beneficial to your child’s learning. If your child attends other therapies, have those specialists communicate with the new teacher as well.
- Review your child’s IEP to ensure it is exactly how you want it to be. Also, make sure that the new teacher has read the IEP. If you are not comfortable with the current IEP, request a meeting to make necessary changes.
- Make sure your medical information is up to date at the school and that the school is aware of any new medications that your child may be taking.
- If your child has special dietary needs or has dietary issues, to address these with the school to ensure that they will be managed.
- If your child is going to ride the bus, contact the bus driver to discuss any concerns. Some bus drivers may even give the child a practice ride before school starts.
Do everything you can to help with an easy transition back to school for your child. Start early – don’t wait until a day before or even a week before school begins to prepare. Then when the first day of school finally arrives, reinforce yourself, sit back, enjoy the silence, and hope that you don’t get a phone call from the school!