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The Positives of Going Back to School for Children with Special Needs
A post by AngelSense, a GPS & voice monitoring solution designed for children with special needs.
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Can you believe it’s back to school time already? For some parents this time of year is all about finding a coping strategy and mastering deep breathing exercises. We like to take a different approach. In fact, this is our favorite time of year because even though it’s filled with changes, it’s the perfect opportunity for you to bond with your child.
Special needs parenting can be challenging, but it isn’t without its rewards. Instead of focusing on the difficulties and daily struggles, this is the time to celebrate your child’s milestones and to acknowledge the fact that your little one is growing up. See this an opportunity and you won’t have to try hard to put a positive spin on this new stage in your child’s life.
Here are five ways to turn back to school time into something positive and memorable.
1. Make preparing for school fun
All kids struggle with changes, and special needs kids are no exception. The transition from the summer holiday to the routine of school can be stressful and unsettling. Some parents recommend creating a ‘transition’ book to help kids adapt more easily to the new environment.
The idea is to fill the book with drawings and pictures from school. Ideally this should be updated daily to include a variety of snapshots from the classroom. It’s important that parents review the book with their kids. This will reduce any anxiety about the new environment and will quickly help establish a routine.
Various studies suggest that rehearsing hypothetical situations beforehand reduces anxiety and helps special needs kids cope more effectively. Parents can create what are known as ‘social stories’ with their kids where they visually represent stressful situations like recess, interacting with others and not interrupting using drawings, photographs or cutouts. If you’re looking for some useful social story resources, here’s a great place to get started.
2. Make your little one feel empowered
One way to relieve any anxiety your child may be feeling about going back to school is to make sure you purchase all school supplies and new clothing beforehand. This alleviates any last minute stress and will give your child a sense of control. It will also help prepare your child mentally for the new school year.
Ideally children should be actively involved in the process as this will help them feel empowered and grown-up. This is also the perfect opportunity to work on developing your child’s sense of self and critical thinking skills. You could, for example, get your child to choose their own clothing or school supplies. For parents looking to teach their kids to pick out the appropriate clothing, this is an invaluable resource.
3. Get your child excited about learning
Your attitude matters. Not only will your child pick up on how you’re feeling, but also they’re likely to respond accordingly. The important thing is to remain calm and express enthusiasm about the new school year. A positive outlook can go a long way to helping kids adjust to the changes. Last year, a parent in Illinois decided to show her enthusiasm by starting a campaign to feature special needs kids in back to school ads. A novel idea and something that could positively impact the way special needs kids feel about school.
The good news is that parents don’t have to go to great lengths to get their kids fired up about learning. A fun idea is for parents to create a back to school learning station with their child. This can be as simple or as involved as you like. The point is for the parent to actively involve the child, making them feel included. Parents looking for some inspiration should take a look at this impressive learning station. Another way to foster a learning environment is to create a space in the house for doing homework. Kids tend to feel more secure and thrive when there’s structure.
4. Use this as an opportunity to bond
Children with special needs increasingly feel isolated and alone.
By spending quality time with your child, you can help reduce the sense of loneliness and isolation felt. There are many ways you can bond with your child. This depends on the individual child’s needs and interests and could include anything from playing games to storytelling.
5. Let your child develop social skills
For many special needs parents, the idea of sending their child to school is terrifying. Others are so overprotective that it can be stifling for a child. Sending a special needs child to school can be an immensely positive experience. It’s an opportunity for a child to interact with others and to develop social skills.
For parents looking for peace of mind, AngelSense is worth looking into. As a wearable GPS tracking and listening device, it removes the second guessing and makes sure you know your child is safe.
AngelSense wishes parents and children an exceptional school year!