Starting school is a daunting change for both children and parents alike. For those children starting school with a disability, it can sometimes be an even more challenging time full of worries and questions. To help things go more smoothly, it’s a good idea to have a plan in place. Below are some of the most important things to include in your plan for your son or daughter starting school:
Schedule A Visit
Before your child begins school, organise a visit and a tour. Ask if it would be possible to schedule the visit at a time when the school won’t be too busy or noisy. This way, the experience will be more calm and relaxed, and your child won’t immediately associate that specific environment with the feeling of being overwhelmed or intimidated. A tour is a brilliant way to help your child begin to adjust to their new school and to help get them used to the whole concept.
As you visit different areas of the school explain what happens in each place, highlighting the fun parts and using a generally positive tone. As a parent, a tour will also be helpful for you during this time. The whole idea of ‘school’ becomes less of an unknown and becomes much more tangible, which will also help you to adjust to this change.
Take advantage of any school events that take place. Encourage your child to join a society or a club. Statistics also show that children with disabilities respond more positively to school and education when they can see that their parents or carers are also participating and getting involved. We recommend that when possible, you volunteer to help in the classroom, with fundraising efforts and on school trips. We also encourage you to attend any functions held by the school like social events, parent-teacher information nights or Parents and Citizens Association meetings. Taking part in school activities will help to integrate school into both you and your child’s life, creating a well-rounded experience.
This will allow you to open up a dialogue with the other parents and your son or daughter’s teachers, helping you to gain a better understanding of your child’s school life.
Two kinds of communication are vital in preparing your child for school and helping them to settle in:
- Communication with your child: In the weeks and months leading up to the beginning of school, consistently chat with your son or daughter about school. Tell them that they will be soon attending school, perhaps even start a countdown with them, explain what is entailed in everyday school life and answer any questions which they may have. When talking about school, approach the subject in a calm but informative manner. Creating an open and consistent dialogue with your child will help them feel mentally and emotionally prepared
- Communication with the school and teachers: Establish an appropriate means of communication with your child’s school, which will allow you to stay in touch. As a parent, you know your son or daughter better than anyone else so it’s important to share any information or knowledge with your child’s school which may be helpful. Talk about your child’s likes, dislikes, activities they have been doing outside of school, any progress they have made. You may even want to create a communication book which you put in your son or daughter’s backpack each day. Both you and their teacher can make notes and give summaries of the day.
At Bespoke Lifestyles, we are committed to enabling people with disability and those caring for people with a disability, to live fulfilling lives. If your child has a disability and you would like more resources, help and support, become a subscriber or contact Bespoke Lifestyles today.