The back-to-school season can be a rough transition for any child—especially when they’re headed for a new school. But when your child has special needs, a new environment can cause extra anxiety.
Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to prepare your special needs child for a new school now to lessen your child’s stress when that first class bell rings.
Talk About It
It’s important to discuss the new school and any feelings caused by the change with your child. Let them know they’re not alone—it’s normal to feel nervous when making a big change like this, and even to feel sad if there are old friends they won’t see every day anymore.
But also talk about the positive opportunities ahead—a new school is an opportunity to learn new things and meet new friends. By focusing on the positive, you can help your child ease anxieties and get excited.
Get Teachers On Board
It’s also a good idea to talk to the teachers and support team that will help your child at the school, if possible. Take advantage of these conversations to make expectations and needs for your child clear up front, and establish a line of two-way communication to remain open throughout the year, so that you can your child’s teachers can work together for your child’s interests throughout the year.
Explore Early And Often
Do all you can to familiarize your child with the new environment early – play on the playground, walk the halls, and spend time in the classroom if possible. Return to these spaces frequently in the weeks before school starts so they become familiar for your child.
Much less overwhelming when the halls are crowded and bustling that first day if they already know how to get from their locker to home room.
Get On Schedule
If the new school’s schedule will require significant changes to what he or she is used to—such as getting up significantly earlier—why not transition to that schedule a few weeks ahead of time? By reducing the amount of change he or she faces on that first day of school, you can make the overall experience easier.
The anticipation of a new school can be intimidating for anyone, and for special needs children in particular. But there’s a lot you and your child can do before the year starts to reduce the challenges and stress. Take these proactive steps now and help your special needs child take on their new environment more confidently.