Back to school again! Somehow it seems like we just started the Summer break. Time moves fast when you’re having fun. There are a lot of things to think about when preparing our kids for school. Some of them are for the kids, some for us and some to prepare the school for our kids.
I’ve spent many years fighting the system for my kiddos prior to them being in homeschool, I know it’ll bring others assistance knowing these tips as well!
Preparing Kids for School Time
Fortunately, the kids list is going to be easier than the parents. I mean, they have us to do all the planning right? Nope 😉
KIDDOS WANTS & MUST-HAVES
Get them to help you with this planning! They know what snacks or lunch stuff they want. They can tell you what they might need to decompress. Even if they don’t know, all it takes is a suggestion from you.
This will help get them in the mindset of school beginning. Especially when they have had the Summer off. You’ll be starting them on prioritizing, teamwork, timeliness and more. This is a must for them to be successful from the start.
Getting the kids to wake up early is no easy feat. Have a kiddo with special needs, and it can be even harder to get them moving in the right direction. You need to start early.
If possible, start at least 3 weeks prior to school starting. You want to focus on the morning and evening routines first. If they’ve had the ability to stay up late and not wake up until 11am, it’s impossible to jump straight into earlier evening 7 mornings without a fight.
This is why you start at least 3 weeks prior. Depending on what works with your kiddo, start change things by 10-30 minutes. They usually go to bed at 10p, then bedtime is now 9:45pm. Make it small so their bodies can get used to the new normal again.
Preparing us (parents) for School Time
Now, is the time to get ahead of things. I know it sounds silly, but the more information you have now, the easier it will be for everyone.
FIND YOUR PAPERWORK
We’re talking about everything you can get your hands on. You’re going to make a file for the school.
If you already have IEP, 504 or other equivalent paperwork, that should be the first thing you put in this file your building. This is full of things that worked last year and maybe even a few that could be improved upon. Read through it and make notes on anything that may have changed. You may need to use this to request another meeting.
Make a list of Opportunities & Improvements for the new teacher and/or team. This could be anything from the Summer, but should include the following:
Any speech differences
Any behavioral differences
Any emotional differences
Any dietary differences
Any social/family differences
Lastly - If you have any important notes from the teacher last year, then add those to the file. This will especially help if you don’t already have a formal plan in place. What the teacher encountered both positive and negative can make a world of difference to how your kiddo starts out their new school year.
PLAN THE SCHEDULE
All kids do better with a schedule. Start planning yours out now.
What time will you wake up?
What time will the kids wake up?
What are the main items on the breakfast menu?
Where should backpacks/iPads/computers be kept?
Where are any medications kept for quick grabbing?
Will you be walking, driving or riding the bus to school? How long does that take?
Who takes them to school?
Will they be eating school lunch or do you need to pack them one?
Who picks up the kids up from school?
What are the snack choices when they get home?
Will there be time for them to decompress? If yes, how long?
How long for homework?
How long for their chores?
Will they have a certain amount of screen time?
Are sports going to change the schedule?
Will you lay out clothes the night before? If so, where?
Will there be any reading or other nourishment prior to bed?
What time will bedtime be?
What days will be the bath days?
What are some easier dinners you can make while everyone is getting used to the new schedule?
Will you have nighttime snacks and if so, what will the options be?
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Most of this you’ll use with your kiddo or the teachers. But, there are somethings that you’re going to want to have for yourself too.
Looking at the questions above for the morning and the evening, how much time do you think you need to get it all done? Remember, estimate on the higher end. Knowing how long it will take you to complete the morning and evening routine, will keep you from being late, overwhelmed and overstimulated.
Groceries… Make your grocery list from the items you’re going to need. Start buying any of the shelf stable items now. That way you can purchase smaller amounts over the next couple of weeks rather than a larger bill all at once. You can buy a cheap tote, label it school items and keep them set aside for when it’s time.
Preparing the School for our Kiddos
This is probably going to be the most difficult part. Between schedules and notices, this may go a bit slower than expected. However, KEEP PUSHING. If you’re kid needs extra help, then you need to make sure they are ready.
MEET THE TEACHER/TEAM
I’m not talking about meeting them at the ‘Meet & Greet’ with all of the other parents. I mean, schedule a meeting ahead of time with the teacher. Take a copy of the file that you built with you to talk to them.
Teachers are amazingly busy during this time and while they do their best to read up on their current students, they don’t always get through all of them. This means, that without the meeting, your child's needs might not be met to the fullest extent.
Be a decent human, and don’t start out demanding. Request a meeting and explain why. Most of the teachers will understand and they will agree to a meeting with you. Keep the same informative attitude when you meet with them.
Ask for their advice in what ever situations you need. Use their professional history to the advantage and work together as a team. Setup a method of communication if need be.
As an example, my childs team and I agreed that outside of the normal apps, they were allowed to directly text me if she needed anything during the day. In the same respect, I would text them how her morning went so that they were better prepared for her during the day.
If these things are not already in a formal plan, make a note to have a meeting after the school year starts so that you can get the items added to it. Always check your individual state laws, but generally speaking you are always allowed to request a meeting to make changes to the IEP if your child has one.
If you don’t have a formal plan in place already, discuss with the teacher what that process looks like and how long you will give the student to acclimate prior to starting to go down that road.
SCHEDULE A PRIVATE WALKTHROUGH
This won’t apply to every kiddo, but for those that need it, very few realize that it is an available option.
Work with the teacher/team and get a time when just you and your child can come check out the school. Here are some things to go through with them:
- If they ride the bus, where do they get off/on?
- Where are they sitting in class?
- Where do the backpacks/iPads/computers get stored?
- Where is breakfast/lunch and how will they get there?
- How do they go to recess?
- Will your kiddo need a helper the first few weeks to get the routine down? (HINT: This is very possible to have, you just have to ask)
- Where is the library?
- On rainy days, where might they be?
- Where is the gym and how do they get there from class?
- Do they have a locker? If so, where?
- What kind of combination is the locker and is there an easy way for them to access?
- Who is their ‘safe’ person? (This person is one that they know they can always go to if they are feeling overstimulated or overwhelmed)
- If they get services, where are those rooms and how will they get there?
- Where is the nurse’s office?
- Where is the sensory bin? (For those kiddos that need sensory items to help them come out of what we called ‘an episode’)
I know these sound crazy, but it makes one hell of a difference when it comes time to start school for your kiddo. They will be more confident and more comfortable in their environment, which is what we all want.
If you haven’t yet, grab your own DiverseMind School Organizer here with all of these questions in a printable PDF format!
We hope you have a wonderful start to the new school year!