It’s that time of the year again! With the school year about to start, here are a few suggestions to ease the transition. In the theme of the season, some A-B-Cs:
Antecedents (what you can do ahead of time to prepare)
Contact your teachers/specialist: A friendly welcome back email can set the tone for the year and open a line for communication on a positive note. Set up a group email if you would like so that different specialists, teachers and family can communicate.
Get your supplies: Have what you need and have it ready to go. If you have school supplies, take the time to open them and get them organized and into backpacks. Stock lunch items that are easy to prepare.
Do a dry run: For those kids that benefit from a preview and practice to ease transitions, practice the morning routine ahead of time when you don’t have the stress of actually needing to get out the door.
Visit the school: Go to the playground one afternoon or drive by the school to familiarize yourself. Some teachers will be in their classrooms preparing. If you call the school ahead of time, you may be able to stop in to say “hi.”
Talk about school: Make school part of the discussion in conversation. Read books and watch movies to prepare kids (and yourself) for the change in routine.
Do enough, and then relax: You don’t need a whole new set of clothes for the first day or a whole new art supply closet. Sometimes just getting basics is best for the first week because you’ll have more information after school starts on what the kids really need.
Prepare and be positive: Modeling confidence that the school transition will be a positive one and that you’ll work through any challenges can be reassuring.
The honeymoon: Expect that many times, the first week or two of school is new and exciting and behavior changes can be minimal. Once it becomes routine, however, you might see an increase in behaviors.
The reverse-honeymoon: Sometimes a child will have a challenging time with a transition. Resist the impulse to act immediately with radical changes. Transitions do take time. Meet with the team to see what you can do to support a successful transition and monitor progress.
Communication and respect: Open lines of communication are a prerequisite for working together. Keep communicating with your team — the good, the bad, the ugly, questions, concerns, and successes. Conveying a respect for the role each person plays in the life of a student can go a long way to enlisting support from a team. This will be a great resource you have already built when or if more significant needs arise. Communication books and email exchanges are both helpful ways to check in on a regular basis.
Consequences (what you can do after the fact)
Solicit support: If you are having trouble at home or school, reach out to those who work with your child. Share your concerns and gather information to get a full picture of the needs of the situation.
Use your resources: Reach out to local organizations, agencies and parents’ groups to find supports beyond the school.
Have perspective and fun: Each year brings a new set of challenges and rewards.