By Kodey Toney
As school begins in the area I want to revisit a column I wrote a couple years ago that I think will help many parents, teachers, and professionals. This is a bit of a throwback if you will...(cue the cheesy harp music)...
It’s school time again, and I know that every year I write about this, but this is such an important, and critical, time of the year that I feel I should give some tips every year. This is a pivotal year for Konner as well. He is heading into the third grade this year and this will be the first year that he moves between classrooms. This could be trouble, we’ll have to wait and see. He’s also going to have two different teachers, and we’re not sure how that’s going to work out yet either.
Here are some ways that I have been trying to prepare him, a little at a time, for the new school year. I hope this may help you.
The first thing I’m doing is talking to him. Brilliant, right? Every chance I get I’ll ask him if he’s ready to start school back. I’ll also ask who may be in his class. This is to remind him that all his friends that he had last year will be there too. I then try to explain the fact that he’s going to have to move to different rooms this year, and that he will have a locker, and two different teachers. I try to do this a couple times a day, just in passing to get it into his mind what he can look forward to.
We all know that children on the spectrum are creatures of habit, so the more I can let him understand what he may expect the better the school year may start.
We also are fortunate that his aid will be back with him this year. This is a blessing for us. This may be the one constant for him this year.
Every year we anticipate the first two weeks to be hectic. Until he can get into the groove of life in a different environment it’s going to be crazy.
I think the fact that he has to switch rooms is the one thing that scares me the most. He is going to have to find the rooms and get the right books. I know that he will have help from his friends, but again, for a while it’s going to be crazy.
One thing that I suggest, and we try to do this each year, is to go visit the teachers and the rooms ahead of time if possible. This will be something you will have to work out with your teachers and the school. We are at an advantage on this one since Jen works at the school, but I will say that most teachers go in a week ahead of schedule to get their classrooms in order and are usually willing to work with you if you just ask.
If you are going to have a special place in the room for them to go when they get over-stimulated it is a good idea to go over that ahead of time with the teachers as well. You can work out a time to go in early and set up the place, make sure that they are comfortable with where it will be and how to use it, and just get to know the teacher yourself too.
Establishing a relationship with your child’s teacher is key to a good school year. You have to let them know what you expect, and then get some feedback on what they need from you. Make sure that you go over the communication notebook if you have one. Let them know any medical issues ahead of time. Give them all the contact information in case they need anything.
This is just another year, and if it goes like the others it will be strange at first, but will go smoothly after a couple weeks. Either way the key is to work together with the faculty and staff.