I’m often asked for some tips that helped Ryan and I prepare to go back to school. Below are several of the strategies that we learned over the years. I hope they help both you and your child prepare for this momentous day and make the year a successful day!
Establish a file for the new school year.
As most of the material you’ll be receiving from school will be paper, it is helpful to create a space to organize daily notes, progress reports, report cards, IEPs, and the multitude of paperwork that you receive throughout the year. I had a file drawer that was “Ryan’s” and in it I kept separate folders for each of these types of information by school year. This is a sure way to easily access a file or report whenever needed. I recently went through these files at home in an effort to declutter. I still had notes from kindergarten!
Decide how you wish to communicate with the teacher(s).
Email, paper, phone calls, and meetings are all important and require documentation. I always met with the teacher at the beginning of the year to find out what system worked best for him or her. I found this to be extremely helpful to allow for consistency between home and school. If possible, give the teacher and your child the opportunity to get acquainted. I also found it helpful to provide a handout describing what teaching methods and behavioral strategies work the best for your child. I titled this sheet “What Works for Ryan” and listed bullets of what did and did not work for Ryan.
Establish a before and after school routine.
Waking up, getting dressed, eating breakfast, waiting for the bus… these are all things that need to occur seamlessly each morning. Similarly, there are a number of activities that need to occur each night. Bus drop off, homework, exercise, dinner, bedtime routine… you will know what activities are on your list, but by establishing a set routine you will make your life less stressful.
Introduce a new environment beforehand.
If your child is going into a new school or will have a new teacher, have a discussion or even write a social story as a way to introduce these new ideas and give your child time to process.
Take time to mentally prepare yourself as well.
The beginning of the school year can be an anxious and stressful time but it is essential for you to remain positive and calm, so that your child does not pick up on your anxiety. Perhaps the previous year was a challenging one, but by setting a positive tone for the new school year, this will help your child to approach it positively as well.
Plan a fun activity in September.
Give your child something to look forward to, particularly if they are anxious about the new school year. This can help them to stay motivated and positive.
Are there any tips for transitioning back to school that you’d like to share below? I would love to hear them!