Smooth transition back to school after holidays

How can you have a smooth transition back to school? End of school holidays means changes in routine and transitioning back to school.

As parents of autistic kids, we know that it takes more time and preparation for changes, both physical and mentally. We want to make sure kids are in sleep routines with consistent bedtimes, and are mentally prepared for the return to the structure of school.

What does the transition back to school look like?

A transition back to school could mean

  • waking up earlier
  • more rushed mornings. This includes getting dressed, packing school bags and heading out the door by a certain time.
  • not being able to do whatever you want in the mornings, but having to follow a list of unmotivating self-care steps to get ready
  • feeling exhausted because you’re around lots of people in class again
  • having lots of school work, homework, and other cognitive tasks
  • eating foods out of a lunchbox again, rather than eating what you want at home
  • having to wear a uniform, which may be uncomfortable
  • not having as much down-time or relaxing time doing preferred activities
  • having sensory overload such as bright lights of classrooms, loud noises like school bells or other children.

How to prepare to go back to school

Sleep preparation

If you’ve had late nights and loose bedtimes, now’s the time to get the sleep routine back in place. Our kids need sleep to have enough energy for the day – both physical and mental. A regular bedtime means they’ll wake up in the morning in time for school.

Routine preparation

If you normally use a visual schedule, a list or a set of morning routine cards, get them out again. This helps prompt the morning tasks like having breakfast, brushing teeth, getting dressed. And hopefully it won’t take too long on the first morning back at school. Practice doing school activities like social skills, playground play, classroom expected behaviours and getting dressed in uniform.

Mental preparation

Talk about school and what kids enjoy about it. Also use social stories or just have conversations about what to expect at school, what the school day looks like, and the routine of school. Ask them what they are looking forward to going back to school and stay positive.

school chat time

Communicate with school

Keep the communication channels open. Also, let teachers know if there have been upsetting events in the holidays, if kids are sleep-deprived, or if they are likely to have difficulty with the transition.

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