It's July. Kids and families are in the middle of summer. Visions of sunscreen, watermelon, sleeping in, swimming, and the great outdoors abound. Perhaps the kids have gone to summer, sports, or sleep-away camp. Maybe your family has taken a recharging beach vacation, or visited sites around the continental USA. Whatever the activity, at this time of year, most are not thinking about, in about a month, the lazy days of summer will give way to the start of school and the crisp days and activities that spell fall.
For many, the changing seasons give way to anxious thoughts. How do you prepare for the upcoming school year? When do you start? How do you prepare your child? When should you talk to teachers? What should you say? What do you do for your child who had a challenging social or academic year and is reluctant to go back? How do you set up a home structure in place to support homework and extra-curricular activities? How do you deal with social media and peer pressure? What's a good balance between school and extra-curricular activities? How much electronics is too much? Is my child ready for school? These are just a few sample questions I regularly hear from parents. For students with average academic abilities and social challenges, these issues are definitely worth considering. But when your child has a disability, these questions can become potholes of worry.
Welcome to School Daze, our supplemental resource to support our parents and families. In this feature, I will take a question and give guidance and info that will hopefully make the school journey easier.. for everyone!
So, in this inaugural issue, we take on the preparation for the upcoming school year. If your child is starting school for the first time, changing schools, or moving to a new neighborhood, it's kind of neat if you and your child each have a friend to lean on! Many parents are feeling the same kind of apprehension. Look for Facebook or other posts on social media for parents looking for friends to meet at a park to play before school starts or to join a sports team or play activity. Meeting new friends will give you both a little comfort net on the first day of school.
Shopping for a special outfit or an accessory for the first day can make it very special and less scary. Talking about the exciting new things that your child will learn and the people he or she will meet is also a good idea. Ask your child what he or she is looking forward to and discuss and prepare. Discussing and anticipating fears or possible transition difficulties will help to proactively problem solve for solutions. Although pictures are great, don't be frantic trying to get them or to make the perfect breakfast. Keeping it simple keeps the stress level low for everyone!
Know too, that most school administrators will be back approximately three weeks before school actually starts. Teachers return about a week before. All districts require teachers and administrators to complete in-services and professional development so they may not be readily available to discuss concerns prior to the start of school. However, you can send an email with your questions, asking for a quick tour of the school, or asking when the principal or teacher might be available to meet. Sending an email introducing yourself and telling a little about your child is a quick and easy way for the teacher to get to know your child before the school year starts.
Additionally, joining the PTA/PTO gives you an opportunity to know about what is going on at the school, to meet other parents, and to get involved. Signing up for newsletters, Remind accounts, and teacher websites will help you keep up with what your child is responsible for or missing at school.
Starting to plan for the new school year can be overwhelming, but starting early, thinking ahead, and jotting a list of things to consider should make the start of the school year feel much less daunting.