A new school year brings new possibilities, new faces and new routines. It can also bring anxiety for a child, particularly for a child on the autism spectrum. But there are several things you can do to help your child prepare for a new school or a new school year.
First, reduce your child’s anxiety by reducing your own. Children are perceptive and can pick up on your feelings of worry or anxiety. If you are calm and positive about the upcoming school year, it will help reduce your child’s fears.
Hang a calendar in a prominent place in your home. Note the first day of school on the calendar and talk to your child regularly about this upcoming event. If there are any other events connected to the first day of school, such as an orientation session, put those on the calendar too.
If possible, take your child to school before the year starts. If you go right before the year starts, you’ll certainly find faculty and staff in the building preparing for the year. This will give your child the chance to meet his or her teacher and a few others in a quiet atmosphere.
Visit your child’s classroom, the gym, canteen / cafeteria and playground. Introduce the spaces that will become a regular part of his or her day.
Try to create opportunities for your child to spend time with some classmates before the year begins. Social skills are often a challenge for children on the autism spectrum, so connecting them with some of the kids they’ll be seeing each day before the school year starts may be helpful.
Practice the morning schedule before the school year starts. Establish a school day routine and practice it each day for several days before the first day. Set the bedtime for the school year days in advance so your child can adjust to it before the year starts. Walk the route to school. Let your child choose the alarm clock he or she will use, what he/she will eat for breakfast and what he/she will wear to school for the first few days.
If your child is taking a bus to school, try to connect with the driver and introduce your child to him or her. Help your child understand that he or she may be sitting in a different seat from one day to the next. Some days, the bus may take a different route if required by the weather or road construction. Also try to identify some other kids who can “buddy” with your child to help him/her feel more comfortable on the bus. A buddy can also help your child adjust if his/her favorite seat is not available or if the bus route changes.
Share information. Send a note with your child or email your child’s teacher in advance. Identify the things your child likes or dislikes and things that make your child particularly nervous or upset. Share your goals, wishes and concerns for the school year. Help the teacher get to know your child.
For more information about helping your child adjust to a new school year or a new school environment, contact the child development professionals at mom’s belief (firstname.lastname@example.org / +91 9015500061).