Summer Break Is Almost Over
August is that ‘back to school’ time of year. Yes, it is sad to see the summer slipping by; but it’s time to start thinking about getting back into the school routine. It can be a difficult transition for children to get back into that schedule, with some kids dreading the end of summer. Here are some tips I've shared over the years for ways to ease the stress and get back into the swing of the school year.
Summer vs. School Routine
Need I mention the difference between summer and school-year routines? Sometimes gently transitioning into that schedule can help. If you start about 2-3 weeks out, it’s much easier to ship your kids into shape. Otherwise, it’s a culture shock for your child and not too pleasant for you either. Below are some tips that are especially helpful for parents of children with autism but can apply to all kiddos.
What To Do:
1. First, begin slowly adjusting routines for an earlier bedtime.
2. Incorporate lengthier study and quiet reading sessions throughout the day and week. This could include anything even remotely academic.
3. Visit the school playground more frequently to promote your child becoming more comfortable with being at school, and on the school grounds. This is especially important if your kiddo has any anxiety issues.
4. Arrange playdates with school friends/acquaintances not seen for most of the summer, especially those kids who will be in your child’s class or grade.
5. If you can arrange a visit to the classroom and meet the teacher, so much the better.
6. It can be helpful to color-code school supplies (notebooks, file folders…). Integrate material color with a picture schedule.
7. Purchase school clothes early, wash them a few times, cut off tags, and make sure your child is comfortable with them well in advance. Therefore, they can be a 'familiar' aspect of the school routine.
8. In Addition, pick out a “cool” outfit for the first day and get a fresh haircut (first impressions are important).
9. Above all, use picture schedules and social stories to prepare for the first day.
10. Prepare the school with emergency contacts and any dietary issues. Moreover, you can prepare the teacher, aide, Guidance Counselor, ‘specials’ teachers, cafeteria workers, and anybody else who will listen for what to expect and how to effectively intervene if necessary.
11. Don’t forget to say a prayer with your kids before they venture off to school; they find that comforting and reassuring.
12. It may be helpful to write an "all about me" card for the teacher. This is a simple and fun way to let the classroom teacher know about your child. For example, such a card can communicate fun tidbits about your child, their interests, and preferences. Any special needs would be more formally presented during a meeting with the teacher and documented in an IEP or 504 plan.
School Routine Success: Building The Mindset:
It may seem daunting, but getting your child back into the class mindset, and settled back into that school schedule can be be done with less stress! Just remember to lat the groundwork with careful planning and help your child build excitement instead of nervousness for their new year.