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Tips for returning back to school and how to support your anxious or disabled child.

Who doesn’t love being on holidays? Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and that means back to the routine of school and work, come the end of January. While it is a transition for all kids, children with a disability, anxiety or sensory issues may need extra assistance in preparing for returning to school after the extended break. We have a list of tips and strategies for returning back to school that can assist in making the adjustment easier.


Child with dark brown hair walking in to school. Tips for returning back to school and how to support your anxious or disabled child
While it is a transition for all kids, children with a disability may need extra assistance in preparing

1. Talk to your child about the new class, teachers and friends

Start talking about your child’s new class and teacher before school goes back. Most students already know who they have as classes are set before school finishes. If you haven’t already found out the new teacher’s name, call the school to find out before the first day. The office staff usually return the week before the students do, so this shouldn’t be a problem. Some schools may keep the same class together for consecutive years, but others will not. If this is the case, assist your child in finding out which of their friends is in their class and remind them that there may be new seating arrangements and routines with a new teacher.

National Autism Directory. Tips for returning back to school

2. Know your rights

Before your support your child in starting or returning to school it is important to understand your rights. Educational providers are all required by Discrimination laws to ensure that all students have the right to attend school or training. Legislation requires that all reasonable modifications or adjustments be made in order for a student with a disability to be able to attend school or training provider and to be able to access the facilities and programs. Hence, ensuring that students with a disability are afforded the same learning opportunities as those students without disability. You can learn more about your rights here.

Read more: What are reasonable adjustments in school for my child who has a disability?

3. Try on uniforms beforehand

New clothing and uniforms may need to be washed several times before school starts. This may avoid any sensory issues. Tags can cause discomfort, as can the stiffness of new garments. Similarly, if your child has new shoes, stuff them with tissue paper to stretch them or have your child wear them at home a few times so that they are worn in when it is time to return to school. Minimising the amount of discomfort for the first day back will ensure a smoother transition.

4. Consider drop off and pick up times and locations

As your child heads into a different year level or perhaps a different school, there may be new drop off and pick up times or places upon returning back to school. Make sure your child is aware of where you will be picking them up and dropping them off. It might be useful to drive past the school and point out locations in advance.

5. Prepare social scripts for returning back to school

A social script, written or visual schedule may be helpful to introduce change to your child. Include pictures of the outside of the school, uniforms and even a picture of the drop off and pick up location to assist with nerves and anxiety.

Our friends at Parents Domain have prepared one for you, download it for free now.

Read more: What is an Individual Learning plan, and do you really need one?

6. Review supports for Individual Educational Plan

In addition, parents should start thinking about and listing the supports they feel their child may need. It may assist in helping your child have a successful school year. What worked in the previous year? Along with what new supports may be needed this year. The school may ask for or assist in creating an Individual Education Plan (IEP). ‘An IEP is a written statement that describes the adjustments, goals and strategies to meet a student’s individual educational needs. This assists them in reaching their full potential. It helps you plan and monitor a student’s unique learning needs’ (Department of Education and Training Victoria, 2021). IEPs are also known as ‘individual learning improvement plans’ and ‘Koorie education learning plans’, or may have other names in other states.

If you start undertaking the strategies and tips for returning back to school listed above during the school holidays, your child is more likely to have a smoother transition when they return to school. Do you have any other suggestions about how to help kids returning back to school that we could add?


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