Back to School! For some kids I know, its the first time at school, a change to a new school, or even a move to high school! So many changes, and it’s the time of year people either love or hate, depending on which side of the fence you sit on. And sometimes, you can feel both ways about it!
Going back to school for any child, can be a difficult time. It is a big change in routine, from usually unstructured, leisure-filled days, to highly structured routines of the classroom. In particular, the long summer break, over Christmas and New Years.
It can be particularly difficult for children with additional needs, as it is often a time of new teachers, aides, peers, classrooms, playgrounds, school bags, drink bottles, work expectation… the list could go on!
And while a lot of kids with additional needs thrive on the structure of the classroom, it can still take a while to settle back into the routine and pattern of the day.
So I’ve put together a few tips, mainly for parents, although it would be useful for educators to consider these things that parents might be dealing with. These tips are also relevant for any educational setting (pre-school, through to high school).
We know there will most likely be an increase in challenging behaviour, sleep, diet, conversation – when school starts up. Even if you have done this for the past 10 years and that amount of school holidays, it is still a struggle for some kids. Provide a bit of structure, using a visual schedule, or a weekly schedule overview, so the child knows what to prepare for.
Provide ‘down time’
First few weeks back will be a lot for your the child to adjust to. Make sure you give them time to ‘have a break’ and do the things they love to do. It’s still hot out, so going to the pool or splashing through the sprinkler in the backyard with very few demands, will give the child an opportunity to regroup after a long day at school.
Run through the sprinkler!
It might be good to keep consistency with therapists and professionals working with the child. The child will know the expectations from the therapist, and will help provide a bit more of that “routine” they’re used to. Plus, they’re handy to have a chat to, if you need some suggestions to help the child with this transition back to school.
So just a few tips to help with that transition period of going back to school. Again, even though school holidays happen fairly frequently, and the child may have been at school for many years, it is still a big change and difference in their daily life, so try and communicate the changes as best as possible with the child.