As we all know, the transition from the relaxed structure of summer to the routines of the school year can be a significant adjustment for our children, particularly those with SEND. Here are a few strategies to facilitate a smooth transition:
Gradual Adjustment of Sleep Schedules:
Summer often allows for more flexible sleep schedules, which can be challenging to shift back. It's important to start gradually adjusting bedtimes and wake-up times at least a week or two before school starts. This can be done by shifting the schedule in 15-minute increments each day until the desired school-year sleep schedule is reached. Regular and sufficient sleep is key to cognitive function and overall wellbeing, so helping your child get back into their school sleep routine can greatly aid their adjustment.
Reintroduction of Structured Routines:
Along with sleep schedules, daytime routines also need to shift back to the school year pattern. Gradually reintroduce structured activities into your child's day, such as set meal times, homework or reading time, and organised physical activities. Using visual schedules or charts can help children understand and anticipate the structure of their day.
Managing School-related Anxieties:
Anxiety about returning to school can be common among children (and adults!), especially those with SEND. It's important to acknowledge and validate your child's feelings and reassure them that it's normal to feel a bit nervous about starting a new school year. Use a positive and supportive tone when talking about school to create an optimistic view.
Preparing your child for what to expect can also ease their worries. If possible, pass by the school grounds before the first day, talk about their class schedule, where their classroom will be, and who their teachers will be. Reassure them about the support they will have at school, allowing them to identify their own trusted adults in school.
Practising relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or mindfulness exercises, can also help manage anxiety. If your child seems particularly anxious, please do get in touch, so we can work together to support them.
Remember, every child is unique, so some tips might work better for your child than others. The key is to remain patient, flexible, and positive as your child adjusts to the new school year.