Back to school season can be anxiety-inducing for any child, but a child with learning delays may struggle the most. The change in routine, strict morning rituals, and time-sensitive activities may overwhelm children who suffer from delays. Now that we are a couple weeks into the school year and you have started to notice the areas of opportunity to help your child cope, here are some tips for settling into this new routine.
Take time to talk with your child:
Positivity is key. Ask your child what they think their strengths are and remind them of those consistently. This will allow you to turn the conversation toward any difficulties they may be having. It is important to define the problem and offer solutions.
Maintain contact with your child’s teacher:
Open communication is important and will allow for a collaborative effort to enable your child to be successful. In sharing your concerns with the teacher, you should also advise them as to how they may handle different situations. You could say something like, “Johnny struggles with verbal direction and may become frustrated. He really benefits from visual examples.” Establishing a relationship early on shows the teacher that you want to partner with them to help your child find success.
Familiarize yourself with your school’s resources:
Knowing what services are available to you will help you along the way. Should any concerns arise, you will already be knowledgeable as to what accommodations may be made to help your child overcome obstacles. Most schools have either a behavioral specialist or a school counselor who can offer guidance in this area. Reach out to them so they are familiar with your child and their needs.
Be mindful of your child’s time:
Overscheduling your child may add to their anxiety and behaviors. If your son is more irritable in the evening, try not to overwhelm him with extracurricular activities. A good idea may be to sit down with your child at the beginning of the school year to determine which of these activities are most important. Adjust accordingly throughout the year depending on how well they are handing their current activity.
Know your child’s environment:
A well-organized environment makes it easier for a child with learning disabilities to succeed academically. Check your child’s room and backpack daily to ensure their belongings are cleaned and organized. Have your child set out their clothes the night before so that is one less thing they are worrying about in the morning. Don’t forget that plenty of sleep will benefit your child greatly. American Academy of Pediatrics suggests children between the ages of 6-12 years need 9-12 hours of sleep during a 24-hour period. The website states, “…adequate sleep duration…leads to improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, emotional regulation, quality of life, and mental and physical health. Not getting enough sleep each night is associated with an increase in injuries, hypertension, obesity and depression…”