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Back to School with Children with Special Needs

Back to School. These words ignite a range of very strong emotions! Excitement, anxiety, disappointment, joy, whatever your feelings, they are probably pretty strong if you have a child with special needs. To help you get started on the right foot, here are some helpful tips:

Before school starts, call the school to arrange for your child to see their new classroom and meet their new teacher if possible. This can be especially important for students who are challenged by change. When you visit, remember to snap a few pictures to review with your child leading up to the first day. Pictures of the arrival area, hallway, classroom, lunchroom, and other key areas are a good idea to review before and during a transition.

If your child is changing teachers or schools, provide a copy of your child’s current IEP to the new teacher. Although the teacher may be given access to the IEP before the school year begins, many IEPs are not distributed until a week or two after the year begins.

Ask for a conference to chat with your child’s teacher about the IEP, home goals that you’d like to share with the teacher, any behaviors that need to be addressed, and establishing home-school communication.

About two weeks before school starts, begin establishing routines for waking and going to bed.

Review your child’s upcoming routine changes with them before the changes start. You may even want to establish a family calendar to make new routines more concrete. Include tutoring, sports, and any other extracurriculars that your student may join.

Check to make sure that your child has done any assigned summer work, such as summer reading!

Create a specific schedule for after school if your child requires routine and structure. Be careful to include a snack and time to rest, as well as to work.

With your child, designate a place for their book sack, lunchbox, and important papers.

BREATHE! Remember that our children feed off of our energy. If we are tense and stressed, our children feel that and may exhibit those emotions as well. Greet the new school year with excitement and joy!

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