Special Education Transition Tips for Back to School

For many students with special needs, changes of any kind can be difficult. Starting at a new school, changing to a new classroom, getting a new teacher, and certainly the special education transition from a summer schedule to the school-time routine can be challenging.

At the Watson Institute, special education teachers, aides and support staff strive to make this transition as smooth as possible. However, there are some tips and tricks you can put into practice at home in the weeks leading up to the first day of school.

Children with Special Needs Transition to School

Going back to school after summer break can be an exciting and also stressful time for students with special needs and their families. The keys to a smooth special education transition are organization, schedules and preparation. Below are a few tips to help your child prepare to return to school.

1. In the weeks leading up to the first day of school, start incorporating the new classroom, school or teacher into conversations, keeping the discussion light so as not to create any anxiety. At the Watson Institute, new students and their families are invited to tour the school and meet with their new teacher, helping them gain a level of comfort and familiarity with their new surroundings before the school year starts.

2. Utilize social behavior stories (such as those listed under School Routines), customizing them to include your child or his/her favorite character to help prepare for the transition.

3. Use a visual calendar, counting down the days to the first day of school. Visual cues and labeling are helpful for children with special needs, especially children with autism spectrum disorder.

4. Ease your child back into a school-time schedule by implementing a consistent wake up time and meal times. This will help your child with special needs be prepared to wake up for school and transition back into the school routine more smoothly.

5. When school begins, have all of the necessary materials organized the night before. This alleviates stress on you and your child. Also, utilize a visual or written schedule for the morning routine. This makes getting ready for school more fun and will help your child with special needs prepare for school more smoothly.

These are a few tips to help you prepare your child with special needs transition to school. Check out our special education resources for additional tips and tools to successfully navigate the school year!