5 Ways to Support the Transition Back to School

Aug 05, 2023

Let’s Go Back to School!

Going back to school can be a rough transition. After a fun and busy summer, it can be challenging to go back to the structured expectations of the school environment! What can we do to support our child’s first few weeks in school and reduce dysregulation? School has many routines that you can support at home, here are just 5 of them!

1. Set a Bedtime Routine!

Sleep is critical for our child’s ability to stay engaged and have access to their learning brain. Setting up a consistent routine will support their ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. The CDC recommends children ages 3-5 years, get 10-13 hours of sleep (including daytime naps) and children ages 6-12 get 9-12 hours of sleep per night. Bedtime routines can incorporate heavy work to support regulation as your child winds down for the night. Check with your child’s therapist if you need help developing a functional bedtime routine!
2. Practice Sustained Attention

Read books to your child, have them practice raising their hand to ask or answer questions. For younger ones, have them label pictures, letters/numbers, and colors. For older children, ask them to sequence the events in the story or answer “wh” questions.

3. School Tool Skills

    • Practice scissor skills by cutting playdough or putty into small pieces. Using clean scissors, your child can cut pasta, lettuce, or other food to support meal prep. These are also great sensory tasks! Use prompts such as “thumb to the sky” to support proper hand placement. 
    • Practice coloring! Use chomper fingers (thumb, pointer and middle finger) to support a functional grasp. You can use chalk on the sidewalk to increase sensory input while coloring. Set up sticks around a drawn shape to support staying in the lines

4. Use a Visual Schedule!

A visual schedule (with words, pictures or both) can support your child’s ability to know what is expected when getting ready for school. Having defined expectations can reduce the time needed to get ready and reduce frustrations when trying to get out the door. 

5. Practice Fastener Skills

With a new school year, often comes new school clothes and supplies. Have your child practice the zippers, snaps, and fasteners that they will be using consistently in school. This will support your child’s independence with accessing their lunch or dressing after their bathroom routine. 

Ask your child’s therapist about other ways that you can support your child with transitioning back to the school year!

Written by Abigail Pichardo MOT License #21520


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