September – Back to Routine!

It’s that time of year again — Time to shop for new shoes, backpacks and lunch boxes. Back to school time can be stressful for many parents and students, but for families with special needs children, getting back into the school routine, after summer break, can be even more of a challenge. Children, and many adults, benefit greatly from structure, organization and routine. Here are ten tips to help ease the transition:

  1. Provide structure as the beginning of school comes closer. (i.e. regular bedtimes, regular daily schedules of activities such as packing snacks and lunches as well as selecting clothing the night before).
  1. If appropriate, plan for the transition back to school with photos and/or social story.   It could include information about summer vacation to share with friends, but also pictures of school, teachers, etc.
  1. Learn the school routine – review the bus pickup, bus route, and if possible daily routine at school ahead of time so student knows what to expect.
  1. Visit the school a week or so ahead of school start date. If meeting the teacher isn’t possible, walk around the school, see the principal and office staff, and visit the classroom.
  1. Make sure all medical information is up-to-date and any special information that the school nurse or school staff needs to know is included. Prepare a one-page guide to your child if you feel it’s necessary for teaching, therapy and nursing staff.
  1. Talk to your child about what’s going to happen, and do so frequently so the information will sink in.
  1. Associate school with fun and remind them of enjoyable events and  past achievements.
  1. Make sure you have your IEP available and ready for any questions you may need to ask as the school program starts.
  1. Buying new clothes and school supplies are activities which also signal the beginning of school and the eventual adjustment to the school routine.
  1. Designate a “launch pad” or location for your child to keep their book bag and lunch box.