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First Day of School: Get Your Child with Special Needs on Track for Success

While the first day of school can be daunting for many children, those with special needs can find the change of routine and social aspects especially frightening. So how can you make starting school for your child easier?

Even though change can be difficult, the following tips will help prepare your child for the new school year:

  1.  Talk positively about school

On a regular basis leading up to the first day of school, you can focus on the positive things about school. Talk about school activities that you know he will enjoy, what classes he will like and the aspects that will make him smile. You can even share fun stories about when you were in school. If you maintain a good outlook about school, it will instill happy thoughts in him when you take him for the first day.

  1. Tell her what she can expect

Children with special needs can find the change of routine at school very difficult. Be sure to review what she can expect to happen and the behavior that is required at school. You can go over things like personal space, following directions and taking turns with other kids. It might also help to set up a similar system at home. You can have the same practice of rewarding your child with stickers or activities if she demonstrates the desired behavior so she can transition to the classroom easier.

  1. Take a dry run before the first day

Go in and meet the teachers, find the cubbies and check out where your child will be eating lunch and where he can use the restroom. While you are there, you can also see the playground and other rooms like the music room or the library. The more your child visits and becomes comfortable with, the less he will have to be fearful about on the first day of school.

  1. Provide information to your child’s teacher

During your initial visit to get acquainted with the school grounds, you can also give your child’s teacher a handout that explains different characteristics about your child. You can also provide this to the principal and any other staff members who will interact with her. Include your child’s likes and dislikes, her allergies, favorite activities, common challenges, food preferences, and any information about your family. Any details will assist the teacher in understanding your child better and in turn, the school staff can best help your child succeed.

  1. Locate your child’s IEP

If your child has an IEP, take some time before the first day of school to review it. Even though teachers and school staff will have a copy of your child’s IEP, it doesn’t hurt to have it on hand to give out just in case. This way, the school will know that you want regular reviews to make sure that goals are being met throughout the school year.

  1. Be an advocate

Let’s face it: no one will fight for your child’s rights and have a bigger passion for his best interest than you. You are your child’s biggest supporter. That’s why its important to learn about the school system and keep on top of what your child deserves by law. There is a lot of information out there, but the more you know and understand, the better are your child’s chances for success.

And as always, if you need other resources, please contact us.

American Disability Association is dedicated to the wellbeing and protection of children with disabilities and actively provides support to enhance their quality of life. Whether you are dealing with federal or state benefits or struggling with a school district to get proper education for your child, we have the resources to help you. Many individuals and families managing a disability are not aware of the wide array of services available to them, or they do not know how to apply for these benefits in a way that is likely to succeed.

Contact us for help. Dial (888) 323-2133 or email us at [email protected]