Back-to-School Prep for Our Youth Clients.
Clients in our youth group homes have thoroughly enjoyed their summer break (visit our Facebook page to see all the fun we've had)! With the new school season right around the corner, we are starting to prepare our clients for the upcoming shift in routine.
Those with developmental disabilities tend to thrive with routine, so the beginning and end of the school year usually require some adjustment and some extra support.
Here are a handful of back-to-school strategies our team uses to help facilitate a smooth transition for our youth clients:
1. We Adjust Schedules
We start moving back to earlier bedtimes and wakeup times that more closely match schedules during the school year. Black-out blinds are helpful and help our clients fall asleep earlier.
Breakfast, snack, and lunch schedules are also slowly modified to mirror a typical school day.
2. We Use Visual and Auditory Cues
Simple visual cues are extremely beneficial for both our verbal and non-verbal clients. We find the following super helpful in managing anxiety:
- The use of calendars to clearly illustrate when the first day of school is and counting down a couple days before.
- Pictures of standard school items are effective in helping children understand what to expect. Download some school graphics here.
- Photos of their actual teachers, counsellors, and classrooms.
Usually about 3-4 days before school begins, we start bringing out our clients' school gear so it is visible to them; we of course, gauge their reaction to these items, but placing backpacks near the door is usually an effective preparation tactic.
Stories are a favourite strategy in our team. We often personalize a back-to-school story for our clients as a way to provide gentle reminders of the school routine. Download a story template here.
3. We Reintroduce Clients into their School Environment
Roughly 3-4 days before the beginning of school, we start taking trips over to the school and, if possible, walk through the halls and classrooms.
These are the basic strategies we use to alleviate any undue stress around back-to-school with our clients. The strategies you use for preparing your child for the new school year will be completely unique to them and will depend on their personality and diagnoses. Don't forget to begin the prep about 1.5-2 weeks before the first day of school.
We hope you enjoy the rest of your summer!