Five Tips for Making Back to School Easier For Families of Children with Special Needs

Can you believe it? I know many parents are cheering right now that its back to school time. However, I know those of you with children with special needs are probably feeling something quite the opposite.  Back to school time can mean lots of anxiety, tantrums, and stress!


image courtesy of: david castillo dominici/

image courtesy of: david castillo dominici/

Here is a short list of things you can do to help your child transition back to school:

1.Begin Introducing Day/Night Schedules

          Your child has been on summer vacation mode and it will be a challenge to quickly get them into a different routine. So get a jump on it by gradually setting earlier bedtimes each night, and reintroducing regular morning rituals such as waking earlier, combing hair, and brushing teeth.   You might even take them for a short drive in the car afterwards to get them used to leaving the house. 

2. Start Introducing School Routines at Home

            From a teacher’s perspective, the challenge is getting children to pay attention and do their homework.   You can help by giving your child small tasks at home to practice, such as spelling a word or staying seated while working on a puzzle.  This will help them get used to staying in their seats for longer periods of time.

3. Take Practice Runs

         After introducing some school morning rituals, why not actually take your child to school?  This will help familiarize them with the trip and they’ll be less anxious and better prepared for that first day of school.   

4. Take Pictures

            Take pictures of the school, the classroom and the teacher on the first day (with permission of course).  You can use these at home as visual aids to help your child understand the order in which things are scheduled to happen over the course of the day.  This should greatly reduce anxiety about the “unknown.”

5. Make it Fun and Musical for Everyone

            While practicing these transitions and routines it’s easy to get frustrated or anxious, so I’d recommend turning them into a game or a musical.  You can make transitions easy by singing while you are doing them. For example, if it’s time to brush our teeth, you might sing “Brush our Teeth, Brush our Teeth” to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”  You don’t need to be a music genius.  Just be creative and make it fun!

I hope these tips will help you start off the school year on a positive note!  Best of luck and please click the links below for more FREE tips and hints on keeping your home, life and family relationships healthy and vibrant.

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