Carolyn’s organization tips are useful for all families not just ones with sensory kids. And I take comfort in her statement, “I like to think of Back-to-School as a three month process instead of a one day event. ” – Anisa
Back-to-School is often a time of year that is filled with excitement and stress all mixed together. This is especially true for our rigid, anxious, and distracted kids. They will certainly find excitement and comfort in seeing old friends and getting back into a routine but may struggle with learning new schedules, managing academic expectations, and staying organized. Here are a few tips to help your sensory child (and your whole family!) get back-to-school in a more peaceful way:
FOCUS ON IMMEDIATE NEEDS ONLY
I like to think of Back-to-School as a three month process instead of a one day event. Shifting into this mode of thinking will help you support your sensory child with the most important needs as they unfold – keeping it simple for them and for you. Let’s focus on the needs for September – getting used to new routines and finding the right after-school activities:
Home: Solidify Morning Routines
Do as much as you can the night before – backpacks ready, lunches made, and clothes picked out. Make a morning checklist or picture schedule that you hang in the bathroom that provides a step-by-step plan for your child. Have all of their toiletries in a labeled bin system. For extra support, have a caddy hold all of the morning necessities to make it more visual, accessible, and portable for those super late mornings!
School: Learning New Schedules
Make it a priority to help your child get a copy of their daily schedule and/or after-school activities to keep at home to review at night as they are planning for the next day. For extra support, create and laminate a simpler version of the new schedule for them to keep in their backpack or hang in their locker/cubby to review as needed.
After School: Thoughtful Activity Selection
No matter how much support you give your sensory child, they will still have periods of being frustrated, anxious, and overwhelmed. It is very important to balance out the school challenges by making sure your sensory child’s after-school activities tap into one of their fascinations, make them feel good about themselves and their talents, or let them relax in a way that is fun for them.
Break down the Back-to-School process for your sensory child. Taking the first few weeks to support the new home and school routines, and to investigate quality after-school activities for your child will support a smoother transition to school. Simple changes for more peaceful days.