Summertime is almost over, and it’s time to think about gearing up for school. This can be a welcome thought or a scary one! Even scarier if your child is moving up and making a big change, whether it be out of RECC, into middle school, or onto freshman year in high school. These big moves are huge milestones for any child, but seem even bigger to our kids. There are some things we can do to make this transition smoother for the kids…and for us!
Tip #1 : Review all of the information. Make sure you have a copy of your child’s IEP and know what it says. Be sure you understand your child’s schedule—the classes, teachers, and setting. Review all the materials sent home including the “typical” information from the school: bus schedules, orientation meetings, and supply lists. Don’t discount the information you can gain from these sources.
Tip #2: Visit school with your child. Make a note of important dates, especially before-school orientations and back-to-school nights. Plan to visit the school with your child. Meeting the teacher, locating classrooms, locker, lunchroom, etc., will help ease your child’s anxiety. Many schools have “Open House” the Friday before school starts. If not, call and schedule a tour before school starts. Take pictures of the building, hallways, classrooms, etc. You can use them to create a social story or just to review.
Tip #3: Set up your house for school. Select a spot to keep backpacks and lunch boxes. Set up routines for homework, school papers, etc. Do this ahead of time, so the first day is smooth. Freeze a few dinners in advance or plan something easy. Clear your work schedule if possible and avoid business trips and stressful meetings for the first week. Anything you can do ahead of time to make the week go well is worth it!
Tip #4: Contact your teachers and school personnel. Let the teachers know that you are interested in getting regular feedback on how and what your child is doing in school. Find out how the teachers like to communicate with parents (notes, e-mail, or phone calls).
Tip #5: Keep a positive attitude! Despite your best efforts, not everything always goes as planned. There will be bumps in the road. But keeping your head up and putting things in perspective will help keep you sane. This is a long road, and your ability to advocate without burning bridges is essential!
Written by Parents for Parents for the Howard County Autism Society