Getting your children ready to go back to school can be a busy and sometimes stressful time for families. The transition from summer to the classroom can be particularly hard for children with autism. Helping your child prepare for new routines and changes back to school may bring will help lessen their anxiety. Our team at Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center has put together a few tips to help your family prepare for the new school year.
5 Tips to Transitioning Back to School
Tip 1: Involving Your Therapists
Your child’s team of therapists are there to help transition back to school, especially if this is the first year of school. With guidance from your ABA therapists, you can start to prepare your child by implementing and reviewing skills he’s learned during behavioral therapy. You and your team of therapists can also take this time to prepare a list of things you would like his teachers to know. A brief student profile is a great tool to send your child to school with on his first day, especially if he has a new teacher or aide.
Tip 2: Introducing the New Environment
In order to reduce the stress and anxiety your child may be feeling, arrange for your family to visit the school, classroom, and teachers if possible, prior to the first day of class. Let your child explore the classroom and get familiar with the school surroundings. Practice drop-off and pick-up procedures if you can. With the school’s permission, take pictures of teachers, the classrooms, and areas of the school your child will spend most of his time in.
Tip 3: Conversations About School
Prepare your child by starting conversations about the new school year towards the end of summer. If you were allowed to take pictures, this is a great time to utilize them. Discuss new friends and caregivers he will meet, reminding him of new skills he has been working on during his behavioral therapy. If your child is returning to school, have conversations about the previous year, old friends he will see again, and routines he may recall from last year.
Tip 4: Start a Countdown
Starting a countdown is a helpful visual tool to prepare your child when going back to school. There are many creative ways to try this too. Make this a part of your daily routine along with discussing school routines and expectations as often as possible during your countdown period. If this is his first year, try role-playing to give him a sense of what to expect.
Tip 5: Practice for the First Day of School
Go through the motions of practicing for the big day. Don’t forget to encourage him to use behavioral therapy skills he’s been working on. Pick out an outfit, get his backpack ready, practice meeting the teacher and new peers; provide a sense of what he will encounter on his first day. You’ll also want to reintroduce his school bedtime and morning routines at least a week in advance if it changed at all during the summer.
There are many excellent ways to help prepare your family and child for the transition back to school. We hope our top five tips have helped point you in the right direction as you begin to prepare for the new year. Have more questions about our ABA and behavioral therapy services? Contact or visit us today.