Saturday, August 6, 2011

Beat the Back-to-School Jitters: Kim from Stories Lead the Way--Back To School Jitters - We All Have Them

Thanks to Kim from Stories Lead the Way for this post!

Back To School Jitters - We All Have Them

When August rolls around, everyone who is involved with the business of back to school gets the jitters. From school administration, to teachers, to parents and kids everyone gears up for the anticipation, worries and general excitement that a new year brings. Teachers ask themselves "Will I be able to handle the challenges of meeting all the needs of all my students who walk through the door?" Parents wonder "Will the teacher be good? Will they adore my child? Will they be able to handle my child's abilities?" Kids react differently. Some of them don't get too cooked up about back to school - it is just another day. While others need the right notebook, perfect outfit and all the accessories that they haul off to school in their backpacks.

For kids who are on the spectrum, there is so much more to think through when making a transition to a new classroom, with new kids, new teachers and new systems. This story is for parents who are facing these issues and hopefully will provide you with a few tips and tricks that will alleviate some of the jitters that you are feeling about dropping your sweet child off for another year of school.

It's that time of the year when parents get the jitters about sending their child off to school. As a parent, you can handle your child and do a good job with them, but they need so much more. School is where they really learn about the world. They learn from other adults, kids and rich curriculum. It is where they become who they are, just like any other kid. It's okay to be concerned or worried a bit. That is natural. All parents worry about how their child will do in school. Go easy and have great faith in the professionals that will be working with your child. If you are concerned about something or have questions about certain things, ask them. It is a teacher's job to work with you as well and it has never been easier to stay in contact with them.

Here is an assignment for you:

1. If your child is new to a school, contact the school before school starts.
Communication is key and the staff at your child's school needs to know more about your child than what is written in their IEP. What do they like? What sets them off? What calms them down? Any trick that you use needs to be shared with the staff so that they can replicate what you do. It is a team effort and consistency is vital! Typically the resource/special education teacher would be the best place to start. Remember, the staff is back the week before school starts, so get on the phone or email right away if you haven't already.

2. If you are returning to the school, contact the resource/special education teacher.
Returning to a school makes the transitioning a little easier because there is background that has been established and some of the staff will know what works best with your child. It will also be familiar for your child. Communication still is key. Let them know if there are any new behavioral concerns, improvements or new strategies that you are using. You can also let them know about any new medication or any updated health info. The more you share, the better. I cannot stress how important it is to have frank, open communication with the case manager of your child! If you want them to be frank and open, then get that ball rolling.

3. If your child will be in a mainstream classroom for any part of the day, find out the name of the other teachers who will be working with them
 Some schools feel like new class lists are top secret, so there may be some hesitation about giving you that information. Let them know that you just want to establish contact and help with transitioning so that it is smoother for everyone. Call or email the teacher and open up the line of communication. Let them know all your contact info, emails, and whether or not you text. (Believe it or not, much of my parent contact these days is via text - it is short sweet and to the point and many teachers are up on that technology). Be careful in regards to making demands. If your conversation is based more on the needs of your students versus mandates, then it goes over much more smoothly. Remember, the teachers have other students in their class and many other requirements that they have to fulfill at the start of the year. You are setting the stage for your relationship with that teacher for the upcoming year. Go easy.

4. Arrange a time to visit the classroom before school starts. Even if you don't get a chance to visit with the teacher, make sure your child is familiar with what the classroom looks like before day one. Bring a camera and take pictures of their desk, locker and just the general classroom so that you can refer back to those things later, if you need to. If there is time for your child to meet the teacher that is a bonus! This is a great time to put a face to a name and to ask any questions your child may have. Remember though, this visit is mainly for your child so that they can feel more comfortable about where their desk is, what their teacher and classroom looks like and how to open their locker. Keep this visit child centered. You will get a meeting and or conference at another time. A teacher's time is precious in the week leading up to school, so be respectful of that.

5. If you have a resource teacher or special education teacher who writes social stories, this is the time to request that. There are a million topics that can be addressed: The First Day of School, How To Greet My Classmates, My New Classroom, My New Teacher, to name just a few. When a child is new to our school, I send home a story about our school. It includes pictures and labels of key places and people in our school like: the cafeteria and the staff that runs it, the art room and teacher, the music room and teacher, etc. I also write a story about their new classroom teacher entitled 10 Fun Facts About Mrs./Mr. _____. (Think David Letterman's Top Ten Lists). This helps them find out some behind the scenes info about their new teacher. In the next 2 weeks, I plan to feature sample stories on my website - Check them out. The stories can give you some ideas or examples of other things that you may want to think through.

6. Relax!!!! Enjoy the last few dog days of summer with your precious child. Home is where your child can let loose and decompress. School is where they will gain the skills to function, communicate and learn in the world around them. It won't always be rosey and stress free, so keep in mind that there will be glitches! That's when interventions can be developed to help remedy and smooth out bumps in the road. As long as you and your child's teacher work together as a team, there will be progress and successes for your child. Take deep breaths! You will get through this! Enjoy!

No comments:



Autism Blogs Directory

Related Sites

General Science-Related Blogs