Settling back into school

5 tips for parents of children with SEN

We hope that the first few weeks back to school for your children have been productive and – aside from the normal hiccups – relatively easy to manage!

However, we also understand that going back to school can be a tough time for families, especially when transitioning from infants to juniors, primary to secondary, or to college or university.

This time can be understandably even more challenging for children with Special Educational Needs. It can take children with SEN longer to settle into a new routine and feel comfortable with the environment around them, which can in turn affect their happiness within their home life.

As parents and carers, we need to be mindful that some children will still be finding it difficult to settle into school life, which is why we have put together a series of 5 tips aimed to alleviate some of the chaos this time of year brings.

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  1. Highlight the ‘fun’ aspects of school life

It’s easy for children and parents to associate school with hard work, exams and structure, which can be restrictive and create a sense of negativity. This in turn can make the thought of going to school every day much more daunting.

One way to help is to start highlighting the ‘fun’ aspects of school; whether that’s playtime, story time in class, art lessons or if your school runs any ‘family fun days’ where parents can come into school and get involved in the activities.

2. Normalise the routine at home

Children can find it hard adjusting to the school day routine in the first few weeks of the new academic year. After the fun of the summer, it’s a shock to the system.

As the founder of Mothers with Attitude blog, Terri Mauro, tells Care.com: “Anything you can do to make something a routine before it has to become a routine, eases the transition, and whatever you can do to keep structure to your days will help.”

To help your child adjust to a new routine at school, it’s wise to create a routine at home. Before school, a getting ready routine will support the routine of the school day. The same after school to get homework completed and dinner eaten will help to normalise the structure of the day.

 3. Understanding your child’s Individual Education Plan

Understanding the support your child will be receiving at school is key, so make sure you can speak to their teacher or SENCO. Your child may also have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) to support their education, which will be reviewed regularly; it’s crucial that you are involved in this process too. Ensure the plan is clear so you can support the school’s effort at home.

As Reading Rockets points out in their back to school article, the “IEP is the cornerstone of your child’s educational program, so it’s important that you have a clear understanding of it”.

 4. Start preparing for next year’s transition now

If your child is transitioning to a new school in the next academic year, it’s recommended that you start preparing as soon as you can. It may not require immediate action, but it’s definitely worth thinking about now so you can reduce your child’s anxiety nearer the time.

Start with visits to the new school. Empowering Parents has a great idea for this: “Visiting a new school with your child when school is still in session is overwhelming for most any kid, especially those who are feeling anxious.” See if you can visit after school or at the end of a term, rather than during the school day. Visit as often as your child requires so they can feel comfortable in their new environment and arrange meetings with their new teachers if possible.

5. Keep all meetings, calls and documents organised with Liferaft

Liferaft is here to support your and your loved one’s needs all year round, but it’s also an invaluable tool to help with getting back into school life. Here’s how our application can help make the school routine a little easier for your family.

  • Use the Liferaft Trackers to keep a record of food likes and dislikes so if you are not around, you can easily pass the information on if someone else is making up a packed lunch.
  • Record any useful information you think will be helpful to your child’s teacher to facilitate with settling in.
  • Keep a track of your child’s mood over the initial weeks to monitor how they are settling in.
  • Use the goals section to help your child work towards a greater independence.
  • Organise any meetings or school visits so you can keep on track.

 Try Liferaft for FREE:

If you think that Liferaft could support you and your family, not only in starting or transitioning through school, but in managing other aspects of your life then sign up for a FREE account today.

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