Tips to Transition Back to School

Heading back to school this month?!  Florida schools are.

When school starts, I feel that there is a lot of stress surrounding the event.  When you are starting a new school or even moving up a grade to a new teacher kids can be nervous, excited, scared or disinterested.  I started thinking about this topic when I was getting all this information home from my daughters new preschool.  They had a lot of good tips and suggestions, however; those suggestions where really geared toward a “traditional and typical” child.

Needless to say, I wouldn’t agree with everything they recommend doing because of my experience with my son with autism.   So, I created some tips to  help ease your transition back to school this year.

  1.  stop buying everything new for the first day of school
    1. I find that kids become attached to their lunch bag and backpack.  I say for the first few days let them take the old, dirty bag that they love and took to school the previous year.  Then when they start to settle into their new routine change the backpack or lunch bag.   The suggestion is to buy new this will work for some kids may love to get their new favorite character bag and that may help them have something to share on the first day.
  2. meet the teacher is stressful
    1. my children cry and ask to leave.  It can seem really overwhelming to have all the kids and their parents all in the room.  There is never any structure to those events and kids are just suppose to know how to find their cubby.  We have gone to meet the teacher without our child before!  Next time, I want to try coming at the very beginning almost early or coming at the end when everyone is leaving.  Then you show up with fewer people and can have a chance to talk with the teacher.
  3. plan a rest or break before school starts
    1. take a week off from summer camp before you go back to school.  Then you and your child can do activities to prepare for back to school.  Explain that you don’t have school this week because you start your new school next week.  Then you can talk about it without there needing to be a conversation.  That gives your child more days to hear about the new school and forget about the old school or camp.
  4. practice at home with new routines
    1. When you went to meet the teacher, was there a sign in procedure?  YUP!  Let’s say it’s preschool; most of the time the teachers want the students to find their name and symbol/picture card and move it over.  You as the parent normally sign them in at the same time.  You can practice this at home.  Make a name card or something similar to what they will use at school.  Use a magnet/felt or Velcro to have them practice selecting their name and moving it to the new board.  You can even make extra name cards for other family members to make her have to figure out which is hers.  Maybe older kids need to unpack their bags and then go write their name or write their spelling words.  Whatever it may be then you can help your child ease into the transition.
  5. visit the school or class when no one else is there
    1. Sometimes easier said then done.  If you are going to drive your child to work, practice the drive and car circle.  Taking the bus, go to the bus stop.  Most schools are open prior to the first day for staff development, you can ask if you can bring your child to see the building when there is a meeting so no one is in their rooms.  Walk the routine from drop off to classroom, to cafeteria to classroom and then from classroom to pick up/bus.
  6. expectations for behaviors
    1. I expect for my children to have behaviors that get the teacher to talk to me!  I expect for my daughter to take some time getting used to the behavior chart at school or my son to not care that there is a behavior chart at all.  I do not expect for day 1 or week 1 to be great, I expect for it to take a good two to three months before they are settled into the routine and know what and how to do.
  7. free and reduced lunch
    1. I think everyone should apply for free and reduced lunch.  I support school lunch programs and think having a hot meal at school is a good choice and it’s one less lunch I have to pack.  For most elementary students if you qualify for reduced lunch you actually get it for free.  If you qualify for free and reduced lunch then there are a ton of other benefits: like free or reduced before and after care at school, at Title 1 schools many students can get laptops or tablets, activity fees can be waived like rentals for musical instruments and in high school waivers to take the SAT/ACT.

Don’t forget that if your child has an IEP that you should set a date to observe your child within the first two weeks and then schedule an IEP progress meeting right away to make sure your child has all the support and services in place to be successful.

Have a great school year!

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