How Do I Prevent Learned Helplessness with My Child with Special Needs?
How do I Help Learners with Special Needs Reduce Stress?
Starting a new school year can be stressful for the entire family. However, there are several strategies to use that would reduce anxiety and develop a balanced fresh start.
- School Supply Shopping: This task alone can be quite stressful and costly. Stay organized and write a list of exactly what is a must have for the upcoming school year. Have your child help decide what supplies they need for their grade. And remember, they don’t have to personally pick out all of the items on the list, however, allow your child to choose a few things in order to customize their taste. You can do this by giving them pictures of items online, a magazine, or even in the store. A few fun things that they can customize is the lunch box, pencil case, and backpack. This gets them excited for the upcoming school year.
- Bedtime Routine: Establish a specific time that indicates when to start brushing teeth, putting on pajamas and going to bed. You can do this through a written schedule, timers, and/or a visual schedule. Children thrive on routine and that is no different when it comes to going to bed. They need a set number of hours to rest so that they wake up refreshed and less grumpy. Not every kid is a morning kid, but with adequate sleep, they generally are less agitated in the mornings.
- Spend Time Outside: After the kids get home from school, set up a planned time for being outside. This doesn’t have to be a huge amount of time, especially if you get home later in the day. Kids in school generally spend most of the day inside a classroom. So, it is important to go outside and enjoy the fresh air. Some activities that you can do outside is walking, riding a bike, getting the mail if you need to walk to the mailbox, saying hello to a neighbor, picking flowers, watering a plant, using chalk on the sidewalk, to name a few.
- Set aside time for homework and time for fun: Most teacher assign homework even after a full day of school. So set aside time for fun and homework. It is okay to take a break in between homework assignments. You can use a visual timer to manage how much work is done and when to give a break. For younger children, set the time to shorter intervals, with frequent breaks. Children do best when they are not hungry, so if homework is done before dinner, perhaps give a small snack to keep their focus up.
These are just a few tips to help parents establish a routine for the new school year. You know your family best and what works. But the best thing to do is to create predictable schedule so that everyone knows what is going on. This can be created by a visual schedule (using pictures/words), or a written schedule (with just words). Place the schedule in a visible location so that everyone can see it and follow it together as a family.