Going back to school may look a little different this year, but you can still set your child up for academic success! Whether your child is attending school in person or online these tips will encourage focused learning and healthy habits. The resources provided will also help educate them on what's happening in the world around them, and how to prepare them for the changes.
1. Portable Hand Sanitizer - Always be sure that your child has a portable hand sanitizer bottle that is easy to access. Practice using it in expected situations such as before eating, after playing, or when using classroom school supplies.
2. Mask Lanyard - Since schools will be requiring students to wear masks this year, a great strategy to make sure your child doesn't misplace theirs or use someone else's by mistake is to put it on a lanyard. You can attach a regular lanyard to one strap or buy a mask specific lanyard on Amazon or Etsy.
3. Personalized Name Labels - Make sure all of your child's school supplies and personal belongings are labeled in an identifiable way (writing, personalize names labels, specific stickers, etc.). This will decrease the chance of them taking another child's materials by accident and reduce germ exposure by only using their own supplies.
4. Plan Outside Time - Transitioning back to school might be tough, so giving children active free time after school can be beneficial. Whether the child is attending school in person or online, playing outside can be a great mental break.
5. Wake-Up Early - To help prepare for the school schedule it is helpful to start waking up at the appropriate school time two weeks before the first day. This will make the transition from their summer schedule to school schedule easier.
6. Set Up Environment - Dedicate a certain space for your child to do their school work that is organized and non-distracting. Try offering alternative seating options to find one that best suits them.
7. Sensory Fidgets - Recently we discovered a wonderful new sensory tool calledCalm Strips. These are sensory adhesives that are crafted to help soothe anxiety and fidgeting by grounding you in a calming scene and giving you a gentle, but textured, surface as a stimulus. Take advantage of their 'back to school' sale by clicking here: https://www.calmstrips.net/
8. Make a Schedule - Help your child prepare for their day by setting a visual schedule. This can be detailed with their class times, or a simple First, Then sequence as they go through the day. A great resource to help you establish this expectation for their day is the app Choice Works by Bee Visual, LLC. You can purchase this app for $10 on any smart device.
9. Social Stories - This school year brings a lot of change to everyone's usual expectations, so how do we describe it all in kid-friendly terms? A speech-language pathologist wrote over 20 social stories to explain various scenarios that children will experience going back to school. Browse through her COVID-19 Related Social Stories for School by following this link: https://www.autismlittlelearners.com/2020/07/covid-19-related-stories-for-schools.html
10. SPOT Books - On the topic of stories, the author Diane Alber has released new SPOT books covering the topics of Online Learning and Staying Home during COVID-19. Along with these specific topics, she has a variety of other books that discuss emotions, perseverance, organization, patience, optimism and more! You can order a book or read them on your Kindle by clicking on this link to view KidSPOT's Amazon List of our favorite SPOT books: https://a.co/iqKJv9J
Blog post written by: Emily Dyer, MS, CCC-SLP