School is just around the corner! How can we help our sensory-sensitive children make a smooth transition from summer fun to school success?
There are a few steps that you can take so that your sensory-sensitive child has the best experience! It comes down to preparing your child in multiple ways, both at home, in comfortable spaces, and with objects that will allow them to self-regulate.
It's important to make sure that our children understand what is happening. Explain to your child that summer is coming to an end and school is starting again. You can talk about all of the fun things they will get to do, like learning new things and seeing their friends every day.
Involving your child and preparing him or her is a great strategy to get them excited! Some ways to make that happen include taking them to buy their school supplies with you, making a list of delicious lunches that you’ll make for them, or even organizing their uniforms for school.
You might even create a "game" where you're the teacher and you replicate similar tasks that the child will perform at school. It’s similar to a social story that we’ve shared before. Click here for more information. Here are some ideas to play “School”:
- Drop off and pick up
- Lunch or snacks
- Sitting down to do work
- Physical Education
- Transitioning between classes
- Doing work
Making things fun and interactive will help your child feel more comfortable about the whole process.
Be creative and keep in mind that the more you prepare your child, the easier the transition will be because sensory-sensitive children tend to thrive on routine and predictability.
In addition, these other tasks will also allow you to prepare the child for a successful year:
In order to prepare at home, you can dedicate a special place to do homework. This will help your child to focus on their work and avoid any distractions. Make sure that the space is well-lit and comfortable. This will become your child's space, so get his or her input in decorating it and listen to what he or she has to say. Put away any toys or objects that might tempt them to play instead of working.
You might also consider using a hammock or a swing for your child to read or do light work. Sensory-sensitive children love to be in motion, so any time you can incorporate movements, the child will be able to prosper in this environment.
Another great space to create for your child is a cozy space with sensory items for relaxing after a long day. It allows the child to have time to regulate emotions that arouse throughout the day. You will want to provide a comfortable seat and several calming activities for your child to choose from. Some examples of activities are art materials, music with headphones, favorite books and handheld sensory toys such as squish balls. This will give your child a chance to regulate emotions that may have arisen throughout the day.
You can also help your child by creating a routine before school starts. A few weeks before school begins, start going to bed at an earlier time and get the child to wake up earlier in the morning. This way, they will be more used to the early mornings when school starts. During this time, you can also start working on homework with them so that they get into the habit of doing it every day.
It's so important to establish a routine for your sensory-sensitive child. This means having a regular time for homework, meals, and bedtime. A visual schedule can be a great way to help your child understand what comes next in their day. Write down or print out pictures of each activity and put them in order. You can even put the schedule on the fridge or in another central location.
You might also want to consider using a whiteboard where you can write down the day's activities. This way, your child can see what is coming up and can begin to anticipate the tasks ahead.
A key component is making the child comfortable. If your school requires uniforms, let your child try them on and choose the ones that feel most comfortable. This way, you won't have any surprises on the first day of school. Your child will have time to adjust to the fabric and feel of the clothing before the first day.
One way to prepare your child for school is by reading with them every day. This can be a fun activity that you do together before bedtime. If your child is young enough to do circle time reading, practice with the family to prepare your child for what's coming up next in school.
Be creative and allow the child to lead. Ask questions about the story and come up with alternative endings. Stories are a wonderful way to get creative and to get children excited.
Fidgets / Transition Objects
Let your child find his or her favorite fidgets to take to school. This way, they will have a comforting object with them during the day. Practice with them at home to make sure they feel comfortable playing with those objects. It's essential to communicate with the school to ensure that children are able to bring these objects to school.
There are a variety of fidgets or objects that can help your child during the school day. Some popular options include:
-Worry stones: these smooth stones can be rubbed between the fingers to calm and soothe anxiety.
-Fidget cubes: this toy has multiple sides that can be fiddled with, such as buttons, switches, and gears.
-Squishies: these stress-relieving toys are made of soft material that can be squeezed in hand.
-Bouncy balls: these balls can help to increase focus and attention by providing a tactile sensation.
-Stuffed animals: these can provide comfort and support during a difficult day.
-Comfy blanket: a soft and cozy blanket can help your child feel calm and safe.
Are you ready?
These are just some of the things you can do to help your child transition into a new school year. The most important thing is to involve your child in the process and make sure they feel comfortable with the changes. This way, they will be more likely to succeed! It all starts at home! For more information on school-specific advice, stay tuned for our next blog!