We recognize that many of our readers have already started school. However, up here in the East Coast, school starts today for some children, later this week for others, and next week for the remaining students. This has resulted in a great deal of anxiety among parents, students, and teachers. While no specific question came in on this topic, our emails have been flooded with back to school woes from:
- my child is starting a new school after 7 years with the same teacher
- my child is starting a new private school
- my child is leaving special education and moving to general education
- my child was separated from her two best friends
- my child is with a teacher who is not trained in special education
The list goes on and on!
We have a few tips for you to get through this week.
Take one step at a time.
Just like everything else we do for our students, we must approach the first day of school in baby steps. We cannot do it all on the first day so prioritize and worry about the most important things first.
Planning is effective.
In order to know what is most important, make a plan. For one of our clients, we planned to meet with and train school staff so they would know what to expect from him and from us. For another, we planned to make visits to the new school to ensure a smooth transition. For yet another, we scheduled play dates over the summer with new students in the class to assist with friendship development. Planning will help everyone feel more prepared and less stressed.
Visual supports help everyone.
Yes, we know that we suggest the use of reinforcement but everyone benefits. Reinforce your child for engaging in appropriate behaviors. Reinforce the teachers for their hard work. And don’t forget to reinforce yourself! Can you say wine, pedicures, manicures, massages? Oh and let’s not forget the Dads! football games, baseball games, golf, beer!
Don’t beat yourself up.
Finally, we all make mistakes. None of us are perfect. The new school, the new teacher, the new behavior therapist….none of them will be perfect. So don’t beat yourself up if something goes wrong or if something does not go as planned. Usually in these situations, you will have another opportunity to get it right.
Readers, weigh in! Do you have advice for the “back to school blues”?