Beginning the new school year is an exciting, but challenging time, especially for preschoolers, first graders and children who are resistant to change because of sensory processing challenges or anxiety. One of the best ways to ease the transition, reduce the fear of the unknown, allay anxiety and help children self-regulate is to discuss what to expect with your child. Plan, plan, plan!
Our favorite strategies:
1. Visit the school, classroom and playground
Take one or two trips to the school before school begins. This should be a fun visit! Play in the school playground, walk through the halls and check out the cafeteria. Teachers are usually at school preparing well before classes begin. If possible, meet the teachers on your visit. If you can visit the "special," such as art and gym that is a huge bonus. Often children who can used used to the new classroom within the first few days will still be anxious in advance of a "special" that takes place in an even more unfamiliar room with a new teacher.
2. Role play
To ensure social success, role-play social scenarios such as meeting new friends, and playing at center time. Considering writing a “social story" about the first day of school, printing it out and reading it with your child for the few weeks before school starts.
3. Meet the Kids
Arrange play dates with other children from your child’s class/school one at a time (pre-schoolers) or in small groups (grade school children), so that they can forge relationships to establish a comfort level when school starts.
Five Quick Tips
*Practice your new morning routine beginning tomorrow.
*Re-establish your evening routine and get to bed on time!
*Pack your backpack the night before.
*Lay out your clothing in a “person.” *Make a list of snacks and lunches to choose from and go on a shopping trip.