The start of the school year is an exciting time but the transition back to school can be stressful for many children. Help children prepare for the new school year with these helpful strategies.
1. Review Skills and Goals – Review school reports and goals and document progress towards goals. If teachers and therapists provided activities or ideas to address skills, take the time to focus on these prior to school starting. Even small reminders about skills can help prepare children for addressing these in the classroom.
2. Take Advantage of Natural Learning Opportunities - Use natural opportunities to address a wide range of skills such as asking a child to help count silverware while setting the table (counting skills) or asking them to read directions while cooking (reading skills). By keeping a child’s goals top of mind, natural learning opportunities can be easily identified.
3. Use a Calendar for Visual Reminders – Many children benefit from visuals. Mark important events leading up to the start of school on the calendar. Examples of activities to put on the calendar are the first day of school, shopping for school clothes, and buying school materials. Discuss how many days are left until each event and have children participate in planning by helping write shopping lists and decide where to shop.
4. Return to a Schedule – Summer breaks often are not very structured. Start getting back into a routine so children are more prepared for the school year schedule. Sleeping, eating, brushing teeth, bathing, and bedtime rituals are examples of activities typically scheduled at set times in a child’s routine. Work on a
consistent schedule to help transition back to school.
5. Use Art and Literature - Have children draw, make collages, or
paint things they remember about the previous school year. Have
them write about or discuss what things they like about school and
what they are looking forward to in the new school year. Use these
memories as visuals to discuss returning to school.
6. Play with Friends from School – Some children regularly see classmates over the summer while others only see school friends during the school year. Schedule play dates or host a classroom party to help children become re-acquainted with each other.
7. Enjoy the Rest of the Break – Although planning for the school year is important, make the most of the last few days of summer. Create lasting memories by going on picnics, attending community events, and taking advantage of extra family time. Take pictures to remind children of summer experiences and create a ‘Summer Memory’ book to encourage communication and language. This is a perfect item for show and tell at the start of the school year.