By Leslie Lindsay
Hard to believe that back-to-school is amongst us–how is it even possible that it’s already August 6th?! Here are some more tips and ideas to help you and your child ease your way into the school scene.
Preparing Your Child for the First Day
Where your child is concerned, start early, but not too early, in prepping him for school. Be sure to drive by the school ahead of time. Point it out and get excited about the place where your child will be learning and playing. Then, a week or so later, pack a picnic and head over for lunch and some time on the playground. Your child will remember that you were there with her, so when she is playing with classmates, it won’t seem so unfamiliar. Teach her how to ask others to join her in play (see bullet points below).
The building may be big and potentially confusing.Either way, go to orientation and show your child around. Remind her that she will never be walking around the school without a teacher or parent. Take photos of your child with her teacher and the classroom and some common areas of the school (ask first). Print them out and present them to her in a little photo book. Study the photos and talk about them together. Have her carry the photo book in her backpack to look at on the bus.
Speaking of which, if your child will be riding the bus, calm those fears too, but be careful not to create new ones. Kids often worry that they will get on the wrong bus or that they won’t make it home. Assure her that teachers will make sure she gets on the right bus and you will meet her at the bus stop. Kids who ride the bus are often better prepared to start the school day than if Mom and Dad do the drop off. Why? It gives kids a chance to be introspective and prepare in their own way. It also lessens the separation anxiety from you.
A final tip is to get to the local library and check out some books on going to school. Read those books periodically in the days leading up to the first day.
Other ways to prepare:
- Describe the school-day routines (get a copy of the schedule from the teacher). Discuss what happens first, where her cubby is located, the bathroom, snack, and lunch routines, and going-home procedures. Answer any questions your child may have. This helps prevent any surprises.
- Make sure you attend the “sneak peek day” with your child before classes start. Get to know people who may be able to help your child and point them out to your child. “If you ever need help being understood, look for this nice lady at the front desk. She will help you.”
- Practice saying these feel-good confidence boosters:
- “I know you can do this!”
- “I trust you will do well at school.”
- “You are very important to me.”
- “I will always love and care for you.”
- “If you want to talk, I will listen.”
- My youngest daughter liked this one: “Parents always come back [for pick-up].”
Make your own Social Story about a child going to school for the first time. It’s simple. Draw pictures (or have your child draw them) and then write a brief sentence on each page about what’s happening in the picture. Page one might go like this: “This is Kate. Today is her first day of school.” Page two: “She is going to kindergarten. Hooray!” Go through general steps and feelings. The book should be no more than 10 pages.
Next week, we’ll cover more specific concerns related to a child with CAS.
[the above was an excerpt from SPEAKING OF APRAXIA: A PARENT’S GUIDE TO CHILDHOOD APRAXIA OF SPEECH, Woodbine House 2012. It is available thru www.woodbinehouse.com, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.)