Tips for a successful school year
Sometimes, no matter what you do, things are going to go, the way they are going to go. The school year is no exception, especially if your a special needs family. Having said that, there are always things you can do to help make the very best of the school year. As a parent to 3 special needs boys, surviving the school year can prove to be challenging. There are however, two key things to remember that can help both you and your child find success. I have found them to be quite helpful in mitigating some of that challenge. First things first, establish a routine. The sooner the better. When dealing with kids on the autism spectrum, routine is a must. If things are predictable then my kids are more comfortable and less prone to having difficulties. Things that I have found the most beneficial is structuring the time before school, after school and before bed. As you can imagine this includes things like morning and bedtime routines and homework time as well. These can be accomplished with a visual chart. This chart will be a reminder for your child of what comes next in their day. Not only is this a great way to smooth out transitions but it also helps to promote independence. I can't control what goes on at school but I can make sure I send off my kids in the morning as well as receive them home in the afternoon in a way that provides comfort, reassurance and sets the tone for the rest of their day. The second and most important thing I have found to make the most out of the school year is a bit more time consuming and multifaceted. This involves being involved. In my opinion, the absolute best way to help ensure your special needs child has a positive educational and social experience at school is to make yourself available. I realize that this is quite often one of those easier said than done type of things. However, the more you involve yourself in your child's education, the better off they are going to be. Many schools need parents to volunteer during the week. Maybe you could be a recess monitor or read books during circle time. Don't forget the PTA either. That's another great way to volunteer. For those of you in the a position where you are unable to volunteer during school hours or even able to make it to PTA meetings, talk to your child's teacher and see if there are things the classroom needs to run more efficiently. For example, cleaning supplies are always welcome during cold and flu season to help keep the spread of germs to a minimum. Each classroom is different so be sure to ask your teachers what items they need most. If nothing else, simply maintaining an open line of communications is something that can really benefit all involved. Doing things like this, whenever possible, helps to build relationships with your child's teacher and other school staff. You can even befriend a few other volunteer parents as well. You will also get a feel for what your child experiences during the day and even meet their classmates. When you are actively involved in your child's school, teachers are more comfortable coming to you with problems or concerns because you aren't a stranger to them. This also makes it easier for you to go to the teacher or other school staff with a problem or concern of your own. My wife and I have a fantastic relationship with the school our boys attend and it's made all the difference in the world. It's made both of us feel more comfortable with sending our boys to school and our boys more comfortable going. Being involved and establishing a routine have helped my boys to get the most out of the school year. I hope these tips prove useful for your family. I love hearing about your experience as well. Are the things you have found to help with your child's educational experience?