While it feels like summer just started, the next thing you know you are picking out new backpacks, buying school supplies, and have to get back into the school routine!
Many young children struggle with changing routines, especially when autism is involved. These adjustments can create a variety of problems and leave many parents wondering how to adjust their easy-going summer routine into a more structured one. Here are some of my best tips for adjusting to a school routine!
Setting An Alarm
About one week prior to school, start setting an alarm so your child has time to adjust to waking up early.
Make A Schedule
Make a visual planner for smaller kids to help them learn the routine. Then start implementing this prior to school starting. For example, each morning they will wake up, brush their teeth, get dressed, and eat breakfast. After breakfast, you can have them practice some work, arts and crafts, and then take a break. If your child requires extra care, and a long time to get themselves ready, this would be an ideal time to implement strategies to assist them in getting ready.
Identify Sensory Requirements for Each Day
If they require sensory input, find a way to work it into your morning schedule. For example, I had one child that I worked with who would wake up, go to the bathroom, brush their teeth, complete frog jumps, jumping jacks, and push-ups, then throw everything on the floor into a basket, get dressed, and come downstairs for breakfast. This helped him get ready in the morning. Another child would ride his bike to school and had one-pound ankle weights on each leg to help calm and organize him. Find what works for your child and make sure they get the input they need to help them focus for the day.
Understand When It's Time for a Break
Teach them when they need a break. If they notice they are becoming overwhelmed and they require a sensory break, they need to be able to ask for one and know how to help regain their focus.
Structured Time for Homework
Homework is another transition that can be rough for children. It is important to provide a structured routine to help them know what to expect. I believe getting the homework done as soon as you can is the best way. I have my children come in, wash their hands, have a snack, and get their homework out of the way. Then they are free for the rest of the night. When they had sports or voice lessons it was a little tougher. The most important part is whenever you have them do the homework it should be consistent.
Creating A Bedtime Routine
The bedtime routine is a hard transition because children are used to staying up late and not having to wake up early. Start limiting the amount of time they are able to watch tv or use a phone or iPad. This should start 1-2 weeks prior to school starting. This will help them acclimate to having to wind down. I always set my children's schedule to playtime, dinner, bathtime, brushing teeth, books, and bed. As they grew older, the same routine except once they were in bed they had to turn off their devices at a certain time.
Children thrive when there is structure and routine. Their brain is able to process what is going to happen which provides them with a sense of calmness. It is important to have routines in place prior to the start of school for Morning, after school, and bedtime so your children know what to expect and help make the transition back to school easier for everyone.