When school starts, children are excited about new teachers, seeing their friends, new clothes, and school supplies. However, for parents of a child with a disability, it can be an extra busy and worrisome time. Parents may be excited to have their child in school and back “in the groove,” but at the same time worry about getting their child prepared and adjusted to a new routine, new schedule and new teachers.
Here are some tips to help make your child’s new school year a good one:
Set up a time for you and your child to meet one-on-one with the teacher. “Meet the Teacher” night may not be the best time because it’s crowded and everyone wants to talk about their child’s needs. Meeting one-on-one may be a calmer setting to bring your child in and help them get used to their new environment. Make an “All About Me” book with your child for the teacher that has a current picture of your child on the front and tells all about your child’s interests, dislikes, reinforcers, etc. Your child’s strengths and weaknesses should be highlighted to give the teacher a better understanding of your child’s classroom needs.
Most everyone uses some kind of planning system. Students with disabilities often crave structure and a detailed schedule so there are no surprises. The planner can be carried from class to class and can be a wonderful tool for school-to-home communication. Teachers can help by encouraging the student to write in it and parents can check it every evening to help their child with their homework and read any notes from the child’s teacher.
Although school mornings can be stressful for most kids, for children with a disability, early morning rush can be overwhelming. Trying to locate a homework assignment or a missing shoe can throw the whole morning routine off, increase stress levels, and make everyone late for school. A detailed morning schedule using a visual schedule or task list can do wonders for helping your child get ready on time and with less stress and anxiety. This will help your child be calmer and ready to learn once they get to school. Having clothes, backpack, shoes, etc. laid out and ready the night before can also help to make the morning time less stressful.
Using these few simple tips can help make the new school year a lot smoother for the entire family.
For ideas on services, groups and events that might just help make that school year an even better one, check out our page on Find Services, Groups and Events.
Before I had my son, I was a special education teacher. I was one of those teachers who believed that these "special" kids needed to be kept safe. After teaching in a self-contained special education class, my views slowly started to change.