Five Simple Tips to Make Back-to-School a Breeze!
The start of the school year is just around the corner! This can be a difficult transition for many children, especially those that thrive on routine or have additional sensory needs. Check out these quick tips from Molly Lester, a pediatric occupational therapist, to help prepare your child for the upcoming school year!
Review the school year:
- A lot of kids with sensory concerns have trouble with change in routing. Making the school year as predictable as possible will ease their anxiety and help give them control over their environment. Educate them on when the school day starts and ends, how they will get to and from school. Driving to the school before hand, social stories and books are a great activity to use when introducing what a school day looks like!
- A new school year means new tools such as crayons, rulers, and calculators. If your child has sensory or fine motor concerns these items may cause anxiety for your child. To allow your child become comfortable with the new items before the first day try going shopping with them! They can pick out their own supplies which will give them control, but be aware of tools that may be distracting to your child (i.e. pop it rulers or light up utensils). Once you are home, allow them to pack their art box or backpack. Even making a game out of discovering the new items such as hide in seek or placing them in a sensory bin will all allow your child to become excited about using their new tools for the upcoming year!
- Children with tactile sensitives may have difficulty wearing a school outfit or uniform. From underwear, shirts, skirts and socks a child with tactile sensitivity may have difficulty tolerating these clothing throughout the day. By making your child an active participant in the school preparation process, you give them control to make the best clothing selections for them. Also make sure you wash the clothing before wearing to make them feel softer and cut tags if they are irritating to your kid!
Tips to do in the morning
- The first morning of school is nerve racking for everyone! Using sensory based tips can help calm your kiddo before they walk through the door. Two examples to do on the first day of school are pack some extra books in your child’s backpack to give them extra weight or give them bear hugs before they get on the bus. Both of these actions can provide your child with deep pressure thus calming their sensory systems.
Words of Encouragement!
- Going back to school is difficult for everyone but reminding your child how special and loved they are will help your child tackle the first day of school!
Remember, change can be difficult for children, and it might take several weeks for them to become comfortable and confident with their new school, teachers, and routines. If you have concerns about your child’s fine/visual motor skills, behavior, ability to follow directions, or attention to task during this school year, you can ask you pediatrician for a referral to one of our amazing pediatric occupational therapists!
– Molly Lester, OT