Whenever the start of the school year rolls around there’s an old Staples commercial that plays in my head. The Andy Williams Christmas song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” is playing while a joyous parent dances through the aisles, trailed by 2 very unhappy-looking children. While the commercial makes me laugh, I don’t find it to be very relatable. For me and many of the parents that I work with, the end of summer brings with it the similar feelings of dread depicted by the children in the commercial, not the joyous parent. If you have a child that struggles with change and transition, starting a new school year comes with its own set of challenges.
Here are 5 tips to help you and your child have a smooth transition back to school.
1. Get on Schedule
Chances are, your child has been going to bed later than they would during the school year. Try to get back to a school bedtime schedule by readjusting their sleep-wake cycles little by little. Have your child go to bed 10-15 minutes earlier each night until you reach the desired bedtime. This will help them be adjusted and won’t make the night before the first day feel so different.
2. Plan a Visit
Before the first day of school, arrange a visit to the school to familiarize your child with their new teacher and the new classroom setting. If possible, take photos of the surroundings so you can look at them together at home and talk about all the different things in the room. Children with anxiety do much better when they know what to expect and can visualize where they will be going.
3. Let Them Know What to Expect
Make a visual schedule of the morning routine. Write out (or draw if your child can’t read) the morning schedule from when they wake up till they walk out the door. If they’re going to carpool, let them know who is driving and who will be in the car. If they are taking a bus, see if you can find a buddy that they know they can sit with.
4. Make Sure They are Comfortable
Let your child take part in selecting their back-to-school clothing. This is especially important for children with Sensory Processing Disorders. Make sure your child tries everything on and that they feel comfortable. If your child is sensitive to clothing, don’t feel you need to send her to school in a brand-new outfit. It’s perfectly fine to start school in a well-worn, proven-comfy but neat dress or pants and shirt.
5. Set Up a Designated Work Area
Create a quiet, well-lit space for homework and studying. Prevent first-day freakouts by stocking the space with all the necessary school supplies. Make it personal and fun, but free from distractions.
If you have any questions, give us a call at TEAM 4 Kids!