Are your summer months marred by a child’s anxious questions about his next school term? Is the first day of school marked by tears and tantrums? Is the Fall term at school a failure due to stomach aches, headaches resulting in many absent days? What can parents do to make the transition to a new school or a new grade easier for the child and themselves? Back to school is always a big transition because your child needs to cope with a new teacher, more academic demands and probably a changing social circle. Timely preparation can make all the difference your child needs.
How to Get to Know the Teacher, the School and Classroom Routines
Spring is the time to start preparing your child for September school terms. Find out as soon as possible who your child’s teacher(s) will be and schedule a meeting so your child can meet her/him. Take this opportunity in school to visit the classroom, music room, washrooms, and gymnasium and locker rooms. Go over the lunch routine and visit the cafeteria. Get permission to use the school playground to familiarize your child with the dreaded lunch break activities.
If your child will be using the school bus, check out the bus stop at home and at school. Walk through the arrivalby bus routine at school, finding the classroom, the clothe’s hook or locker, the routine for shoes, where the school bag and lunch break snack go… go over everything because sometimes it is these LITTLE things that cause stress for your child.
If your child will need a “safe person” or “safe room”, this school visit will be the time to show your child and explain the support already in place for him.
Also ask for the names of a few students who will be in the same class so you can arrange play dates during the summer. This way your child will already have a few friends to start the year well. Now with many privacy regulations the school may not be able to give you a class list but with a little detective work you might find out through other parents who will be in the same class.
Many teachers have write-ups with their classroom routines and rules so ask to have this. When the time is right, perhaps during the summer, write Social Stories that will make your child understand what will be asked of him in class.
Facilitate your child’s bonding with the teacher by talking about her/him often. Ask for a photo and use it in your Social Stories. Make your child understand the teacher is probably a parent too and knows about children and how to help them.
Ask the classroom teacher what books she can suggest that your child can read during the summer that will be helpful for the coming year. Do NOT read the books that will be read in class because your child will become bored and worst yet will want to tell the class about the story being read. All the questions to develop creativity asked while reading books will be lost on your child who already knows “what will happen next”.
How Can the Teacher Get to Know Your Child
Have a carefully written summary about your child and your child’s needs and you can entitle it and sign it in such a way that when there is a substitute teacher in class this summary is made available to the substitute. Give this to his new September teacher(s) in the Spring so she can be aware of your child’s needs and might read up on it during summer. In case it gets misplaced give another copy in the Fall when school starts. Always be proactive and leave nothing to chance!
If you have a good book about your child’s special needs problems or a picture book for the class, you could give it to the teacher or at least have the titles written down in the summary. Offer to come to class and talk about the special needs of children in general and include in the discussion the needs of your child.
Some parents have their child write a letter, dictate a letter the parents write or even give a video to the teacher so she/he can prepare herself/himself for your child…preparation works both ways and if done right and at the right time it can make Back to School easier for all.