Back to school is a tough time of year for any family. That stress can compound on itself for families with special needs children. If your child has special needs, or even just needs a little extra help getting ready for school, try these 5 back to school tips for families with special needs.
Organize their supplies and papers
Special needs children can have a lot of trouble knowing how to get things organized for the year. By taking the time to help them organize, you’ll be setting them up for success during the school year, and also helping yourself know where to look for important things they may forget. Organizing supplies make it easy for them to get what they need, or for their teachers to help them during the day. Be sure to take your child’s needs and behaviors into consideration, there is no single method that works for everybody because each child is so different.
Get into routines
The biggest thing you can do to help your special needs child get comfortable with back to school is to get into consistent morning and evening routines. Their day at school will be relatively structured, and you want their life to be as predictable for them as possible. Sudden unexpected changes can have severe emotional consequences, so be sure to ease them into it before school actually starts.
Most if not all schools have ways for parents to get involved with their children’s education and afterschool activities. Take advantage of these opportunities to learn about the school and the way it is run, plus afterschool activities are a great way to meet other families in similar situations. By getting involved with your child’s school, you can better help them adjust to their time away from home. You’ll be better able to understand and assist with specific issues they may have, making things easier for everyone.
Special needs or not, children need to know what is expected of them and their behavior. Talk to your child about behavior and, if applicable, performance expectations so that everybody is on the same page. Having clearly defined boundaries will make it easy for your child to understand what they need to do and will help you asses how they’re doing.
All of the other tips are important, but if you only follow one tip, make it this one. At the end of the day, no matter how well they do or don’t do, whether they’re happy or sad, they’re your child and that’s more important than anything else. School can be a whole new struggle for special needs families, but you need to support each other and help each other grow and succeed. Without a support system, your child could feel like they’re alone and unwanted when that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Special needs families know all too well the struggles and hardships their situation can bring. Back to school bring a host of new hurdles and challenges, but by following these tips, back to school will be much more pleasant for your child and your family!