Top 5 Tips for Going Back to School

by Shannon Eeles, Managing Director, Autism Partnership

Shannon Eeles

 

 

 

TIP 1 - PLANNING

Success is in the planning so set goals early: things will go more smoothly if your school team is all on the same page, and setting goals can help keep everyone focused. You may not have a formal Student Support Group meeting until later in the term - if possible make a time to meet with your child’s teacher in the first or second week of school to establish some key goals for early term 1.

Goals may be academic, behavioural or social and should be individualized to your child. Also make sure that goals are specific. Create a goal that says “Billy will stay with his friends in the playground” rather than a general statement like ‘Billy’s social skills will improve”.

Some common things that may need to be addressed in the first few weeks of school include: understanding classroom routines; navigating the school; knowing ‘out of bounds’ areas; getting to know classmates; following instructions; staying on-task in the classroom; organising belongings; and asking for help.

TIP 2 - MOTIVATION

Motivation can be tricky, so provide the school with a list of things that will help your child engage. Your teacher has lots of new children to get to know. If he or she knows what your child is interested in this will help your teacher build rapport with your child. They will also be able to incorporate this in to their teaching to help both academic and social goals.

 TIP 3 - PRACTICE

New skills take time to learn, so practice will result in your child learning skills faster. For example if the goal is for your child to master the morning routine at school, practicing at home will help them achieve this faster. Morning routine only happens once a day at school, which doesn’t provide much time for your child to experience success. Practice the elements of morning routine (ie putting your bag away, getting your books and pencils out) just once a day after school and you are doubling the amount of practice and success for your child. If you can do the morning routine two times after school you will triple their practice time! Think of it like learning a sport, it would take a long time to learn how to serve a tennis ball if you only did it during a game.

The important thing is to make practice fun. It might be that you practice lining up during a fun activity like jumping on the trampoline or just before a bath. The point is also that your child experiences success with the task, so make sure you provide enough help to keep them successful and plan to fade your assistance as they become more independent. 

 TIP 4 - TEACHER & SCHOOL RELATIONSHIP

Invest in your relationship with your school and your child’s teacher. Communicating with your child’s teacher about the tough issues will be easier if you have an open and respectful relationship. It is worth investing in this from the very start. It’s important that your teacher feels like a valued member of your child’s team so make sure that your child’s goals include things that are important to their teacher.

As we all know, teachers are busy people so it’s worthwhile asking your teacher what method of communication works best for them. For example it may be hard for your teacher to speak with you before or after school so they may suggest that email is better.

TIP 5 - CELEBRATE!

Celebrate the wins no matter how big or small! No doubt your whole family has worked hard on the road to school, so make sure you take some time to celebrate. Celebrations don’t need to be big events or involve elaborate plans – maybe it’s a trip to the park as a family, baking a cake, a special dinner or even your own private celebration with netflix and block of chocolate. Do what you love and take a minute to remember how far you have come.