To help kids with special needs start the school year well, try 1, a few, or all of these 9 tips. As a former teacher, I have seen them make a difference!

School will soon begin around the country. During my 25 years as a teacher, the parents who used some or all of these 9 tips helped their kids with special needs start the school year on a positive note.

Tip #1: Stick to the School Supply List

Purchase exactly what’s on the school supply list and nothing more. Glitzy, fancy versions of items on the list often create distractions in the classroom. Plus they tend to be more expensive, and who needs that? Filling the school supply list costs enough already.

Tip #2: Start the School Schedule 1–2 Weeks Ahead of Time

Implement school bedtimes, wake up times, breakfast time, and lunch time at least 1–2 weeks before school starts so kids are ready for the school routine. As bodies adapt to set meal times, they are better able to adjust to the school bathroom break schedule.

Tip #3: Develop a Positive Mindset about School

Kids base their attitudes about school and teachers on what they observe in their parents, so you need to develop a positive mindset. Try out these statements to stay positive about school and teachers:

  • Educators are people, just like you. You are more alike than different from one another.
  • Most teachers are in education because they care about kids. If they were in it for the money, they would have chosen a different career path.
  • Even if my school years were negative, my child’s can be positive. In other words, don’t let your bad memories color your child’s life.

Tip #4: Cultivate a Spirit of Cooperation, Notof Confrontation

While parents of kids with special needs must advocate for their children, advocacy works best when parents and educators cooperate. Therefore, start the new year with cooperation. Treat teachers and administrators as members of your child’s team  and see what happens. If they cooperate by following your child’s IEP and suggesting appropriate goals during revisions, do a happy dance. If not, move toward confrontation slowly and calmly. You really can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Tip #5: Take Your Child to Visit a New School Ahead of Time

Call the school secretary (Who, BTW, along with the custodian, knows more about what’s happening at school than the administrator or anyone else) to schedule a visit. The secretary will know when the school is open, what door to enter, and whether or not the floor wax is dry.

Tip #6: Call the Teacher Ahead of Time for a Visit with Your Child

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