If you’ve read the ‘About Us’ section on the Liferaft website, you will see that several of our team are parents and like you, are spending the last few weeks of the precious summer holidays having their children’s feet measured for new school shoes, hunting down that elusive last piece of uniform and hurriedly filling pencil cases and rucksacks.
Starting school for the first time, moving into a new class, transitioning from primary school to secondary, or secondary school to higher education is a scary and stressful time for parents and children alike. Will they find new friends? How will they react to new environments and new levels of authority?
In the Liferaft team, our children are all at different stages within the education system, but we still sit over a cup of coffee having the same worries! All these worries can be multiplied if your child has special educational needs (SEN) or a long-term condition. As parents we want to support them the best way we can and the team here recognise that, so we’ve put together a list of our favourite Top Tips that have helped us and many others along the way. We cannot promise that you won’t need extra tissues on that first day, but hopefully a few of these tips will mean less of those tissues!
- Make a big deal out of buying a new lunch box and water bottle. Whether it be a pink, blue or has extra sparkles, if it is dishwasher proof, go with the flow.
- Are you able to get your child involved in making the packed lunch the night before so they won’t be shocked or surprised the following day? This will head off any lunchtime traumas and hopefully they will come home with a full tummy and an empty lunch box.
- Remember to pack the homework the night before or immediately before you walk out of the door if the homework is done in the morning. You do not want to go to all that effort and then leave it at home.
- Work out how much time the whole family needs in the morning. Do you and your partner need to get through the bathroom first? Work backwards from the time you need to be in the car on the way to school allowing 20 minutes each for getting change/teeth brushing etc. and then eating breakfast. Then add another 10 minutes for back-up time in case someone is a little behind that morning.
- If the new school requires a new journey by either car or bus, this could cause stress to all involved in the school run, so try and do a couple of ‘dummy runs’ in the weeks leading up to the first day to alleviate any negative feelings.
- Your child’s age will direct you to how much sleep they need a night, but those first few weeks at school may mean a slightly earlier bedtime whilst your child gets used to a new school routine.
- For children with special educational needs, the school may be able to arrange a visit for you and your child before the start date so that new classrooms etc. have a familiar feel when your child officially starts and you can note any need for specialist equipment or aids.
- Even if you take your child into the playground in the mornings, going those final few metres on their own can be daunting. If you know of another child (or parent!) who is also worried, agree to meet up a few minutes early so that the two children can walk in together. So far, one of our children has been walking in with the same friend for two years!
- If you have any additional needs or a long-term condition, talk to the university disability advisors and have a student support plan in place. It’s important to make the university aware of your condition – they will suggest ways they can help.
- Email each of lecturers personally, explaining in your own words how your condition may affect their classes and what they can do to help.
Useful Links for any parent, guardian or family member to bookmark:
Pinterest – SEN back to school boards
Liferaft back to school resources:
Times Educational Supplement back to school resources for students:
SEN – Free Printables for SEN teachers and support circle:
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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.Bottom of Form