Reduce Back to School Stress for Your Child
Therapies and Resources for Children with Autism & Families
While continuing to enjoy summertime with your child, it is never too early to begin preparing for your son or daughter’s adjustment to going back to school. It can be very difficult to transition your child from a more relaxed summer schedule to a more disciplined school schedule – often requiring earlier wake up times and bed times, as well as more regulated breakfast and lunch times. However, there are certain steps you can take during the summer to ease the ‘Back to School’ transition for your child.
- Talk about school often. To avoid the conversation of going back to school taking your child by surprise in early August, start the conversation early. Talk about school: where it is located, the teacher’s name, activities the child will enjoy, favorite subjects, and so on.
- Visit school. Take your child to the school to visit several times, if possible. This will help your child become familiar with the environment, so it will not seem as strange and stressful come the first day of school. Consider taking several photographs during the visit to create a photobook you can use at home when you talk about school.
- Meet with your child’s teacher. Even though your teacher has your child’s IEP, or Individualized Education Plan, he or she may not understand the unique nuances of your child. Take the time to humanize your child, sharing unique behaviors and effective sensory therapies as well as any known triggers or strong dislikes. This will help your child’s teacher get to know your son or daughter as a unique individual, rather than simply through what they’ve gathered from the IEP.
- Practice and rehearse conversation starters for your child to use with peers. Try to find an interest that your child can use when he introduces himself to a peer. For example, if your child loves to draw or play basketball, he could use that subject as a bridge to talk to a classmate. Continue to practice these conversations throughout the summer.
- Begin adjusting your child’s daily schedule to resemble his school schedule. Every week, move up your child’€™s wake-up time in small, 15-minute increments until you reach school wake-up time. As you adjust the morning wakeup, also adjust bedtime to ensure your child continues to get at least 8 hours of sleep or more, depending on his or her age. Also mimic your child’s school-year schedule for eating breakfast and lunch. If your child has adequate time to adjust to the school-year routine, the official transition back to school will not be as jarring.
As you prepare for your child’s back-to-school transition, feel free to contact the team at Peak Potential Therapy for caring guidance and expert advice.