It’s the first day of school! Excitement is in the air, yet you feel a little anxiety coming from your child, and before you know it it’s rubbing off on you as well. How sure can you be that your child will be safe in school? Are there qualified people to take care of his needs there? Take a deep breath. Together, let’s help make the first day of school memorable and less stressful for both of you. Here are a few ways to help your child with special needs have a positive time in school.
Parents Have Homework, Too!
Do your own research about schools you want to entrust your child in. Some terms that can be useful are inclusion, mainstream, and exclusive schools for special children. Inclusion refers to a setting which has special and regular children in one classroom, following their chronological ages. Mainstream is when kids with special needs are placed in a class according to their abilities. Exclusive schools cater to children with special needs only.
Have a Visual Schedule
Written words beside pictures detailing what is to come in class will help your child know what to expect when school starts. He can keep it with him in his pocket or inside his school bag (have this laminated, and have more than one copy in case he loses one, he will have another to replace it right away). Whenever he gets overwhelmed with the setting, he can bring it out to help guide him throughout the day. Having this copy will also help the child associate words with the pictures.
Something from Home
A small token or toy may be brought to school to help your kid adjust to this new learning environment. Ask your child’s teacher if the item he has chosen is too distracting or too big for him to bring. Examples of these include an article of clothing, a small toy, or a favorite book.
Take Your Child on a School Tour
Even before the school year starts, visit your chosen school and take your child on a tour. Show him the classroom and the different areas inside it. Also, take time to explore the playground and snack time area. Introduce him to teachers and school personnel so as not to bombard him with the new environment on the first day of school. Let your kid feel that school can be a safe place for him – an environment where he feels welcome and can reach his full potential!