Beginning a new school year is often a stressful and chaotic time for both children and parents. Throw in fine motor skills or sensory processing challenges and it can be even more difficult and harder to manage. To help ease your child's transition back to school, below are some tips you can try out.
1. Change their Bedtime Gradually
If your child currently has a late bedtime, a couple weeks before the start of school, begin moving their bedtime up around 15 to 20 minutes every couple of days until you reach the ideal bedtime you'd like your child to have when school starts.
You can't just switch their bedtime one night all at once. This will only frustrate your child and chances are they'll end up just lying awake at night. So, start with small changes. You may also want to end other activities a little earlier in the evening too like texting friends or watching TV to give your child a chance to wind down before bed.
2.Provide Visual Schedules
Try to incorporate a routine or structure into your child's everyday life. When a child has a set routine, they know what to expect each day. A visual schedule can help your child understand what each day has in store.
3. Provide Proper Types of Sensory Input
By providing your child with proprioceptive, vestibular and tactile input, you'll help support a regulated and organized state of arousal. This results in increased times of attention, focus and helps your child meet social and environmental demands needed to complete their academic activities each day at school.
Have your child perform easy sensory tasks before their school day starts like:
- Engaging in animal walks around the home like bear or crab walks to gain active proprioceptive/resistive input
- Twirling around in a circle to gain vestibular/movement input
- Holding onto a fidget while in the school bus or car to gain tactile/touch input
4. Be your Child's Advocate
Learn the strengths of the school. Let the school and teachers know if your child has any special needs. If your child requires special services like an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), find out what the school has available.
5. Practice Patience
Your child's first day back to school can be a big shock for the entire family. Grumpiness and tiredness can linger throughout the first week, so be patient. Younger aged kids may take even longer to settle into their schedule.
Talk with your child's pediatric occupational therapist about other tips you can try to make the transition back to school a little easier.