Preparing for ‘Back to School’

Written by Dr. John Carosso

Yes, it’s that time

It’s that ‘back to school’ time. Yes, it’s sad to see the summer coming to a close and definitely time to get back to the school routine.

Summer vs. School Routine

Need I mention the difference between summer and school-year routines? If you start about 2-3 weeks out, it’s much easier to ship your kids into shape. Otherwise, it’s a culture-shock for your child, and not too pleasant for you either.

What to do (tips for parents of children with autism, and typical kiddos):

  1. Begin slowly adjusting routines for earlier bedtime.
  2. Incorporate lengthier study and quiet-reading sessions throughout the day and week. This could include anything even remotely academic.
  3. Visit the school playground more frequently to promote your child becoming more comfortable with being at school, and on the school grounds. This is especially important if your kiddo has any anxiety issues.
  4. Arrange play-dates with school friends/acquaintances not seen for most of the summer, especially those kids who will be in your child’s class or grade.
  5. If you can arrange a visit to the classroom, and meet the teacher, so much the better.
  6. It can be helpful to color-code school supplies (notebooks, file-folders…). Integrate material-color with picture schedule.
  7. Purchase school clothes early, wash them a few times, cut-off tags, and make sure your child is comfortable with them well in advance.
  8. Pick-out a “cool” outfit for the first day and get a fresh haircut (first impressions are important).
  9. Use picture schedules and social stories to prepare for the first day.
  10. Prepare school with emergency contacts and any dietary issues.
  11. Prepare the teacher, aide, Guidance Counselor, ‘specials’ teachers, cafeteria workers, and anybody else who will listen for what to expect, and how to effectively intervene if necessary.
  12. Don’t forget to say a prayer with your kids before they venture off to school; they find that comforting and reassuring.
  13. Autism-Speaks also has some nice back-to-school bulletins (I especially like the ‘about me’ activity):http://www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/community-connections/back-school-its-transition-time

God bless and enjoy the rest of the summer.

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Dr. John Carosso

Dr. Carosso has more than 30 years of experience as a licensed Child Clinical Psychologist and Certified School Psychologist working in private, inpatient, outpatient, residential, school, and home settings. He is Clinical Director of Community Psychiatric Centers (cpcwecare.com), a licensed Behavioral Health Outpatient Clinic, and operates both the Autism Center of Pittsburgh (autismcenterofpittsburgh.com) and the Dyslexia Diagnostic and Treatment Center (dyslexiatreaters.com).