Natasha’s tips before going back to school
The summer holidays are almost over, I don’t know about you but for our family (Grace 11, Beatrice 9, Llewelyn 7) it’s been mostly a washout of wet weather, rising living costs, strikes, and protests (mostly from the kids!).
Then of course there is the general struggle and sense of unease that goes hand in hand with being a parent of a child who is neurodivergent. For many, the words ‘return to school’ represent anything but a pleasant and exciting prospect.
Back to school
For Llewelyn, the thought of a new environment and social interactions can be incredibly overwhelming. For me it was a constant worry about how he would adapt, particularly as he tended to thrive on routine and predictability. Any change can be unsettling. Back to unfamiliar teachers, loud bells, bright lights and stomach churning smells.
The prospect of the whole ordeal can make us as parents feel incredibly helpless. However, there are steps we can take to prepare our child for the upcoming school year and help them overcome the difficult challenges they may face.
My tips and advice
First off, try narrowing it down to one actual struggle because heading “back to school” is way too big a task to tackle. Instead consider what has been your child’s biggest issue in the past. Is it waking up in the morning, putting on uniform or being overwhelmed by the imposing nature of the school building?
Once you’ve identified one small struggle, practice it ahead of time. Try replicating the scenario or carry out practice runs to get more comfortable before school starts. If your child’s biggest concern is not knowing the new building, perhaps try driving past it a few times before the start of term. Visit the school’s website, you can usually find a collection of videos and photos of the classrooms, play areas and staff. It will then feel more familiar to your child when they arrive.
If you’re feeling more confident you can also consider running through the whole school morning routine, from waking up to pulling up outside the school gates. Creating a visual schedule can also help your child understand the routine and feel more comfortable with the new environment.
These are just a few ideas, but they should help you slow the whole process down a little and give their body and brain a chance to catch up with the huge transition that they’ll be facing.
Because if they are happy, so are we.