The tough part of writing a post to help for back to school is every child’s struggles are so unique. There are things that help one child that may not help another.
If you are new to Sensory Processing Disorder or would like to learn more you can do that starting here.
For the past several years we’ve known that school may really be a challenge for Miss Sensory. In fact, we spent ages 2-5 basically focused on preparing her for Kindergarten. And it surprising went really well. You’ll get to read more on that later this week. So now that we’ve gotten a few years of school in, including full day Kindergarten we’ve learned a few things that I am hoping will help you and your child.
Today is really all about you dear parent… I know you want answers to help your child. But, the BEST thing you can do to help your child usually starts with you.
Get involved, Volunteer. I know it’s hard with busy schedules but this is one of the best things that I’ve been able to do and even the smallest amounts of time have really made a big impact on Miss Sensory. It has also really helped me since she doesn’t share much about her day or time at school, when I spend time in the classroom or even at lunch I get to see what happens and can talk with her about them later. I also get to know her classmates which helps me talk with her. If I didn’t do this, I don’t think I would know anything about her day or who is in her class. She sincerely, thinks that I already know about her day and what happened sometimes. But most of the time, she just can’t tell me about her day.
Comfort to go. One of the things we started doing was having her wear a watch or bracelet that we gifted to her so that she has something from “us” while she’s at school. This has helped a lot. We use these bracelets (key ring removed, for added sensory impact) and they are great for something to chew on and fidget with during lines, transitions and circle times.
Make friends with the teacher, the principal, the social worker, and the paraprofessionals. The biggest thing I’ve heard from other teachers is to share what’s going on. I’ve heard conflicting views on doing this and was conflicted in whether I should say anything or not, since, Miss Sensory holds it all in for school, I really thought about not saying anything. But, I have had many friends that are teachers that have told me they would rather know and be on the same page as the parents. I loved that. I have learned that teachers are for me, for us, for our child and not against us. I’ve heard way too many negative experiences and so far (I know we are really just starting out) we have had a really positive experience.
A greater number of the staff at school knows our story and knows our daughter. I am so grateful that they all take such care of her doing the day, so that I don’t have to worry. I certainly had plenty of worry before she started school!!! I promise it may seem like they aren’t trying or aren’t listening but they aren’t against you and if they are a good teacher they will sincerely try to do what is best for your child as well. Think Positive!!
Problem solve with the staff. Sitting still is still one of Miss Sensory’s biggest challenges. With all the sensory input throughout the day it’s especially challenging. There are a few easy things to incorporate into the classroom that can help. Weighted lap pad, bouncy bands, pediatric postural cushion these are tools that could be at your child’s desk. I wrote an entire post on tools to help with sitting still here.
Pin point areas of difficulty and have a game plan ahead of time. If you follow me on Facebook you have read my rants on shoes. Most days, last year I didn’t know if we were going to make it to school on time or even make it there at all…. All because of shoes!!! This year, I’m going in with a new plan. That includes either requiring her to wear boots outside all year and she can change into tennis shoes at school or I will be carrying her to school in socks (I know it sounds ridiculous but much easier than the epic meltdowns to get shoes on), so I will be giving staff a heads up and seeing what they require for shoes.
Letting go. A big part of surviving the school year is more about me letting go. You know I’m a bit of a fashionista and it’s been a challenge for me having a sporty girl who hates dresses, but it’s something I’ve just let go of. So much so, that if she’s wearing flowers on her leggings and a polka dot shirt in mis- matching colors, we roll with it. Sensory issues and clothing is such a challenge in our house. We really are just winning if she has clothes on. Learning to let go is a process, give yourself extra room where you need to and accept what you can life with and draw a line where you need to.
I feel like that’s more of what special needs parenting is about really, it’s nothing like what I thought parenting would be and it is all about adjusting and accommodating to what our kids REALLY need.
My best tip for you is to focus on what school is really about. The positives that your child is gaining, work to grow those positives and challenge your child to see them, as well.
Be PROUD… BE PROUD of every accomplishment your child makes and even those that you make no matter how small. Celebrate those moments and treasure them, they help get you through the REALLY tough moments. Did you dear parent stay calm while your child was throwing their shoes at you this morning (please tell me that this happens at your house too)… high five to you!!
And a final word…For those of you who have kids who hold it all in at home and let it all out at school, I’m sorry that I cannot speak to that. It is an area I have not experienced, we have the opposite at our house, holds it in everywhere else and saves it for home. I have experienced the meltdowns and violence at home and I feel that both are just as a heartbreaking. So to you dear parents, I know that it breaks your heart that school is so challenging for your kiddos, but I know that you can advocate and fight for your child and I know that it will feel like it is you against the school. I know your child may not tell you “thank you for fighting for the best for me” but from one parent to another, I encourage you to keep fighting for your child. Keep going and don’t give up.
May your this school year be your year to have less meltdowns and more joy!!
What’s your best tip to help parents during the school year?
In the next few days we will be talking more about tips to help your child, before and after school routine and homework tips. See you tomorrow to read more in this entire series.