Tips to Avoid First Day Jitters
Starting school or going back to school really means one thing to me: The dreaded change in the schedule and adapting to new schedules and routines. Just when you feel you have your routine established . . . it’s that time of year again. For families with children who have special needs, this can be especially challenging.
But before you let yourself get too stressed out, let me ask you a question: Did you know that you could ask your school to set up a VIP tour and meet-and-greet for your child? That’s what I did and it definitely made a difference. Do it yourself and set a positive tone for the next school year. Here are a few strategies I’ve found helpful to get the first day—and the year—off to a great start. It’s time to stop being nervous and time to get excited.
Set up a meet-and-greet.
Many schools have an open house the week prior to or during the first week of school. This is great, but can be overwhelming for a child with special needs. Instead, contact your principal and set up a one-on-one meeting with their teacher, special education teacher, para professional, or any other adult your child will be interacting with on a daily basis, prior to the first day of school.
Tour the school.
Get acclimated with the school at the meet-and-greet. Walk the hallways and stop at each place they’ll be spending time: the gym, cafeteria, library, art room, etc. Practice walking all the hallways. Don’t forget to check out the outside playground too. Lastly, review your drop-off and pick-up schedule with your child.
Explore their classroom.
Spend some time really exploring the classroom. Find their desk, locate the bathroom. Review privacy and good hygiene practices. Find where your child will store their coat, backpack, and lunchbox.
Experience the sounds.
Will the school broadcast daily announcements, or sound bells? Ask to hear those sounds and discuss when your child is likely to hear them during the school day.
These are just a few recommendations and suggestions based on my experiences to help your child with autism, anxiety, ADHD, or more have a fantastic first day and school year. The more they prepare, the more at ease they’ll be with their new schedule and school experiences. Good luck!