Back-to-School Tips from ABA
“Back-to-school” season is one of the most exciting and intimidating times of the year. Kids get to see their friends, parents get some alone time, and teachers get to do what they love! And there are also so many responsibilities that return with the start of the school year – so how can you set yourself and your student up for success?
Set expectations and review them:
Over the summer, it’s easy to let things slide, everyone deserves a break! But this can mean that when expectations are set during the school year, kids will push back. Talk to your kiddo about negotiable (what you eat for breakfast) and non-negotiable routines (wake up by 7:00am). Explicitly talk about consequences, and stick to them (“If we get up too late, I cannot drive you to school. You will have to take the bus”). Stick to these expectations, even when it’s tough!
Establish a consistent routine:
Before the school year begins, determine your family’s morning routine. A week or two before school starts, practice this routine – what time will you get up? Who is packing lunches? How independent does your kiddo need to be while getting ready for the day? Get into the new routine and then make the day fun! If we are practicing getting our kids up earlier, make it exciting by taking a day trip to the zoo, visiting with friends, or other preferred activities. If following the routine means we get to do all our favorite things, we will be more likely to stick to that routine when it’s time for school.
Talk about and build excitement for school:
Some students naturally love school, but for others thinking about school can produce anxiety or increase challenging behaviors. Make sure the narrative your kids hear is about how awesome school is, that it feels good to try hard things, and that learning about new things is exciting. If your child struggles with school-related anxiety, add reinforcement to their day at school so they have things to look forward to. Make school lunch the time they get their favorite dessert or plan a visit to the park after pickup. Just remember – most children need more frequent reinforcement to sustain positive behaviors. Rather than having your child work all week for a special treat on the weekend, encourage their bravery and stellar behavior with a nightly activity they love.
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