This post about transitioning into the school year is contributed to the Melissa & Doug blog by guest writer and special needs consultant Dr. Melissa Liguori, Ed. D.
Summer is now in full swing and the lazy days have settled in. Our children have more free time, less structure and are hopefully enjoying some time outside enjoying the beautiful weather. So why is there a nagging feeling in the back of our minds that just wont quit? One word is responsible for this feeling. Something big is about to happen. That something is TRANSITION.
Each new school year brings with it many new and unique experiences. Some children will enter new schools, some will ride the bus for the first time, and some will have to navigate their way through the lunchroom with older students. These are all rights of passage for our students, but they come with a price. These novel situations can cause nervous youngsters and concerned parents for sure. Many transitions are right around the corner for our children and these new experiences can be very difficult for some children, especially those with special needs.
All children depend on routine and familiarity. For most children the beginning of a new school year comes with many brand new faces and places. However, there is no need to stress about these changes! The key is being prepared and the new year will be smooth sailing!
Making a book for your child packed with information and photos about their new setting is an ideal way to be prepared. Reading the book with your child several times over the summer will help familiarize them with their new surroundings way ahead of time. Most schools are open during the summer for camps and classes. This is a great time to go over and take some pictures of your child’s new environment.
Take pictures of everything! The front doors they will be entering, the library, the gym, the lunchroom, the bathroom they will be using. Next, have your child help you assemble these photos in a book. Add some text such as, “this is where I will eat lunch with my friends next year,” or, “this is where I can read quietly with my friends.” Another great idea is to get in touch with school staff that might allow you to come in before the school year starts and take photos of their new teachers, therapists and other people that will be a part of their new school year. Previewing these special people ahead of time will help to reduce anxiety about meeting so many new faces all at once.
Often school playgrounds are open during the summer as well. Take your child there to run around and explore a few times during the summer. This will help them become familiar with their favorite playground activities well ahead of their first time there with their new class. When they return to school they will be old pros navigating their way around and we as parents and caregivers can relax knowing they are ready for a great year!
Here are some arts & crafts materials we used in our book for the new school year:
- Construction Paper
- Alphabet & Numbers Sticker Collection
- Washable Non-Roll Markers
- Child-Safe Scissors (zigzag and straight lines)
- Mess-Free Glitter Stickers
How do you help your family get ready to go back to school? Share your ideas in the comments section below!