Ask the Expert: Tips on Getting Your Child Ready for School
Q: Just a few more weeks until school is back in session! What are your tips for helping parents to get their children ready?
A: You purchased new school clothes and got every item on the supply list. All set? Almost! Parents with children who have autism know that a few more preparations help the transition from summer to the classroom. Let’s review our back-to-school checklist for the child with autism:
Confirm the child’s placement
-What building, what room, what teacher?
-Have any of the arrangements changed over the summer? If so, you may have to do some footwork to make certain your child is receiving all necessary accommodations. Better done before school begins instead of everyone dealing with a surprise.
Visit the school and teacher before the first day
-Often, teachers are in their classrooms a week or two before school begins. Ask if you and your child can visit before the chaos of the first day.
-Visit even if the teacher is not available. Think of it as a visual support for your child.
-Take pictures of the school (playground, cafeteria, gym, classroom, etc.) and review them with your child daily before school begins.
Slowly transition when your child goes to bed and arises
-Two weeks prior to the first day of school, adjust your child’s bedtime and the time he/she gets up by 15-minute increments until you are on a school schedule.
-Yes, I know this is challenging for many children, and you may not experience full success. But try, it will help.
Plan to communicate
-Take this one seriously—parent/teacher communication can make or break a school year.
-Use the Parent/Teacher Communication Checklist and the Individualized Communication Plan to begin the conversation with your child’s teacher and to agree upon the best method of communication for both of you.
-The sooner the better. The best plan is to have a plan!
Now that you’ve got the details handled, you can enjoy the excitement of the new school year, the smells of freshly waxed school floors and sharpened pencils, and the opportunity to see your child grow.
Margaret Oliver is a special educator for Akron Public Schools, a guest lecturer for The University of Akron, and a published columnist and author. She advocates for special needs students, their parents, and their educators to promote the best possible experience for the child.