The middle of August always brings that fated realization come about - School is just around the corner! All the stores switch their "Seasonal pool toy" aisles to bins and bins of shiny new school supplies. The days begin to grow shorter (Depending on where you are), and camps near their final days. Many do not want summer to end. Knowing school is a couple weeks away can be disheartening for many. Having to put away those swimsuits and water toys away, and start getting your pens and pencils all organized can be a saddening chore!
But, for those that are dreading the return to the classroom, you can make that transition from Summer to School much easier! Here are some great tips to aid the September switcharoo!
1. Get Interested
Start talking about school in a leisurely way. Let your child know the change is coming, but make it sound fun and exciting because it is. Talk about if they're excited to see who's in their class this year, about the new teacher, are they excited to see friends again they haven't seen since last year! Go over their school supply list together so they know how many shiny new products they get to go and pick out. Talk about what the new craze for notebooks and binders are. I remember growing up, traditional binders made way for those FiveStar zip binders and then Swipes write-on binders! Kids always like to have the latest and greatest, or the same as their friends. They can even look at catalogues/flyers to see whats trending for the school year! The main point is to make going back to school seem fun! The more you can excite your child to return to the classroom, the easier their transition will be!
Prepare a calendar that notes when school is back. Maybe even have them cross each day off as it comes and goes! Use fun stickers, shapes, or images they love to make this a fun activity for them too! Take them to the dollar store to find calendars and stickers that they would enjoy working with!
2. Return to the School Environment
Start bringing your child into the school zone in the evening. Get them re-situated with going to that location. Maybe take a walk around the school's park. Let them play on the school's playground (if it's open of course. Many playgrounds are open and back onto city parks as well!). Drive by the school in the morning. Or, start walking your child to their bus stop!
Once they feel grounded on the school grounds, maybe the school is open those last couple weeks so you can take them inside and roam the halls again. If you talk to the Principal they may allow you to meet the teacher before the first day. See if you can arrange a meeting with the teacher, as it could help lessen any anxiety about having a new teacher. Request a timetable early if possible to help situate your child with their day's timing, and take pictures if you can of their classroom, so you can have the timetable and pictures together!
3. Make A New Schedule
Craft with your child a new timetable at home that will simulate the school day. Set their alarm as if they needed to wake up, get ready, eat breakfast, then go to the bus stop. If your child is going to camp, and the camp schedule is similar already to the upcoming school day, then that will make the transition that much easier! Your child will already be used to waking up early to catch the bus on time!
4. Figure out the Bus Situation
Sometimes the bus drivers practice routes before the year begins. Maybe you can contact the bus company/school to find out about the bus. Where the stop is (if its new for your child), what the bus number is, maybe name of the driver. Maybe they will even run a practice route with your child to get them more comfortable.
If this is not possible, have your child meet the driver on the first day (if its a new bus). This will help them feel more comfortable taking the bus if the driver has a friendly face to them!
5. Returning to School is A Big Change
Change is ok. Everyone needs to readjust once school begins. If there are any changes that get your child nervous, talk it out with them. Let them know that change is normal and everyone does go through it. Let them air their worries. Let them know that learning is fun. All their friends will be with them again, and they will continue to grow their mind.
Always try to be involved with your child throughout the school year. Speak with the teachers to see if there is anything you can do to best help your child at home. If the school is able to help you with the transition, send thank you's to those that helped you!
Make learning fun, as it is the best way to grow your mind. School is amazing for social interaction and growing fundamental skills. It is ok to be hesitant about the end of summer. But, a brand new and exciting school year is just around the corner.
Have a great end of the summer and start of the school year!
* some information above was sourced from the Autism Speaks.org article "17 Helpful Tips to Transition your Child with Autism back to school", written by Kimberlee Rutan McCafferty. Viewable at: https://www.autismspeaks.org/blog/2016/08/22/17-helpful-tips-transition-your-child-autism-back-school