I recently heard a Back-to-School ad play on the TV and immediately thought, “Can it be time for this already?” I can still recall how I felt as July turned into August and we began the back-to-school countdown. Ryan was always very anxious (and I was, too) so I learned over the years how I could help the both of us control our worry. Perhaps some of my ideas might help you and your child.
- If your child is entering a new school, it is helpful to set up times prior to the start of school for your child to walk through the school building and locate his or her classroom. When Ryan was transitioning to Walnut Creek Middle School, we walked through the school and located his classroom, locker, restrooms, etc. to allay his anxiety about being in a new school. We even had an album of photos of the staff with whom he would interact.
- Schedule an appointment with the principal to allow all of you to meet and informally talk about the upcoming year. The Principal and the Walnut Creek Middle School team went to great lengths to assure a successful start for Ryan. I credit the outstanding staff for the success Ryan experienced at Walnut Creek.
- Similarly, request a team meeting prior to the start of school. I would suggest that all the teachers who would interact with your child attend. I felt it important that not only Ryan’s classroom teacher but the ancillary staff were acquainted with Ryan and the work he was capable of doing. I provided a packet of information about autism and how it might impact his school performance.
- However, the most important component was creating a handout describing what teaching methods and behavioral strategies were most successful with him. I made sure that the team understood the importance of setting the bar high by including a sample of his best work as well as his efforts when he lacked interest in the work he was doing. I wanted to make sure they knew that he would work to the level that was expected of him.
- Count down the days to the start of school so that your child is prepared for the transition from summer fun to school days. If you changed his or her bedtime and morning routines for the summer, readjust them a week ahead of time so that your child gets used to getting up early and starting the day in a structured way.
- Remember, it’s also important for you to remain positive and calm. Ryan could always sense my anxiety, which in turn made him become more anxious.
I always welcome additional input from parents on what’s worked for your family as well.
On another note, as some of you may know I particularly enjoy Maria Shriver’s concept of taking the month of August to step away from social media, blogging, and the digital world (as much as possible). I will resume my blogging in September! May you have a smooth and blessed start to the school year!