Get a Good Start on the New School Year!

Tips for Making the Beginning of School a Successful Experience for your Child

According to Christy Tirrell-Corbin, Ph.D., in an Aug. 20 article on PBS Parents’ website, “the balance between excitement and anxiety is influenced by a number of factors including:  your family’s schedule, parent-teacher relationships and opportunities for much needed “down-time” from the weekday routine.” Here are some suggestions of ways to make your child’s school experience as successful and positive as possible:  

Make a Transition Book

Take a camera to these meetings and take pictures of everything you can and use them to create a transition book about your child’s new teacher and class. Look at the book regularly to help your child become familiar with the new environment.

Learn the New Routine

Ask the teacher to go over the daily classroom routine so that you can review it with your child. Create social stories and review them often so that your child knows what to expect when school starts.

Develop a Good Relationship with Your Child’s Teacher

Have your younger child make or create something to bring to the new teacher such as cookies, a drawing or some flowers. Try to bring or do something that shows your child’s strengths or skills. Try to keep it short and simple.

Prep Slowly

It’s also important to remember that kids will pick up on your stress, so make sure you have all your necessary supplies early. “I like to have everything ready a full week before school starts — clothes, supplies, meeting the teacher, as well as have the bedtime routine down. It usually makes for smoother adjustment from summer schedule to school schedule again,” says Deborah Arrona, a Pasadena, Texas, mother to Aria, who has cerebral palsy, cortical visual impairment, and other special needs.

Keep Your IEP Available

Keep your child’s IEP or 504 at-a-glance brief, factual and with a bullet list which includes the accommodations—then share your one-page document with the special education teacher or 504 coordinator and ask that they share it with all the teachers (including PE and electives).

Snap Photos for Social Stories

You can have one for your morning routine at home, one about going to school, and one for situations your child may encounter at school, such as eating lunch in the cafeteria. Take pictures with your digital camera or cell phone, develop them directly into a book at a local drugstore, and then narrate them with your child again and again.

Make Digital Copies of Your IEP and Other Paperwork

You’re going to have to send multiple copies of these documents to various professionals throughout the year, and it’s very handy to have them available via email. Stop by an office supply store and have them make you a digital copy as well as an extra hard copy to have on hand.

Schedule Your Well-Child Check up with your Pediatrician and with Keystone

Don’t wait until the school nurse calls to say she doesn’t have your child’s updated records. Schedule your child’s appointment as early as possible – and when you schedule the appointment, let them know you need immunization and other records for school.

At the same time, schedule a free, comprehensive screening beyond what is monitored at a typical one-year pediatrician one-year well check. Keystone knows that getting help early can lead to the best outcomes for kids. Developmental, learning, behavioral and social-emotional issues are estimated to affect one in every six children. Because these issues are often very subtle in young children, only 20-30 percent of children are identified as needing help before kindergarten. If your child is younger than 5-1/2 years old, you may complete an ASQ Developmental Pre-Screening Survey. After we receive the completed and submitted survey, our client care coordinators will call you to sechedule a free, comprehensive screening with our therapists.

Talk to Your Child

So often, adults know what’s going to happen, but they forget to share this critical information with kids. Sit down with your child, and talk about what your child can expect. The first twenty (or two hundred!) times you say, “You’re going to a new school!” you may be greeted with a firm “No!” – but eventually the message will sink in.

Prepare a One-Page Guide to Your Child

Write up a brief, one-page document that covers your child at a glance. Note any food allergies or medical needs the school should know about, things that are likely to set your child off, and things that will calm him down, as well as emergency contact information.

Resource for Parents/Caregivers:

Strategies for Making the New School Year a Success, by Christy Tirrell-Corbin, Ph.D., PBS Parents, Aug. 20, 2017

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