By Erica Patino
As the first day of school approaches, kids with learning and attention issues may feel a bit nervous. Here are some tips that can help keep everyone calm.
Set that alarm clock, wake up together, and walk to the place where the bus will come. Ask permission to come to school and check out where this year’s classroom will be. Will this class be using a different bathroom? Take a look and see. Give your child concrete strategies for practical worries. (“If no one’s there to pick you up and you’ve waited 20 minutes, find a teacher and someone will call me.”)
A classroom of new faces can be particularly daunting for kids who have trouble with social skills. Ask the school for a class list and mention to your child some of the familiar kids she’s going to see. Reach out to parents of a few students and arrange a meet-up at the playground. Even if your child doesn’t make a strong connection, seeing familiar faces will make Day 1 that much easier.
Emphasize the activities she likes. (“And then you’ll go to music—that will be fun.”) If your child has attention issues, you can suggest that she sit in the front row of the classroom. You may want to prearrange this with her teacher. Young children uneasy about separating may not grasp that you’ll “pick them up at 3:00.” Instead, say something like, “I’ll be outside right after music class,” or whatever the last period may be.
Kids with ADHD and other issues that affect behavior may be particularly concerned their teacher won’t like them or will be mean to them. Reassure your child that her teacher is there to help her learn and understands that sometimes she may need some extra help. Setting up a meeting between child and teacher can give them a chance to make a one-on-one connection and appreciate each other’s needs.
If your child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP), a 504 plan or some other arrangement for classroom accommodations, explain to her how they’ll help her at school. (“You’ll have a little more time to complete the writing assignments and you can do them in a quiet room.”) If she has a counselor or a case manager, remind your child that this is someone she can visit during the day if she needs help or reassurance.
The night before, have your child pick out what she wants to wear for her first day. If possible, encourage her to go to bed a little early. In the morning, build in an extra 15 to 30 minutes so she’ll have time to get dressed, change her mind about her outfit, eat breakfast without feeling stressed, and hold on an extra-long time when she hugs you goodbye. It’s a brave new school year and your calming touch and enthusiasm will make all the difference!
Starting a new school year can make any middle-schooler nervous. The social and academic pressures can be especially daunting for kids with learning and attention issues. Here are tips to help you calm your child’s fears.
Getting back into school mode after the holidays can be hard—for kids and for parents. These seven tips can help you jump-start the second half of the school year and make sure everything’s on track.
Erica Patino is an online writer and editor who specializes in health and wellness content.
Ginny Osewalt is certified in elementary and special education, with experience in inclusion, resource room and self-contained settings.
Middle School Challenges for Kids With Learning and Attention Issues
8 Steps for Creating a Smooth Transition to Fourth Grade
Third-Grade Boot Camp: Preparing Your Child for Fourth Grade
Experts Weigh In: “Should I Delay Kindergarten for My Child With Attention Issues?”
5 Tips for Calming First-Day Jitters in Middle School
Checklist: Getting Ready for a New School Year
There was an error posting your reply.
Thanks for being a part of the Understood Community. Your comment will appear shortly, once it’s been reviewed.
*Please confirm you are not a robot.
Hear from Ellen Braaten, neuropsychologist and mother, on the benefits of an evaluation.
Help your child finish summer assignments before school starts.
Read what insiders say about its potential impact.
Find out how to tell if early organization difficulties could be a sign of a bigger issue.
Sign up for weekly emails with helpful resources for you and your family.
This email is already subscribed to Understood newsletters. If you haven't been receiving anything, add firstname.lastname@example.org to your safe-senders list.
Name must have no more than 50 characters. Email address must be valid. Email message must have no more than 140 characters and cannot include the < > / \ special characters. Please fill out all fields and complete the reCAPTCHA to send a message.
*Please confirm you are not a robot.
Don’t worry—we saved what you wrote.
Sign up to get personalized recommendations and connect with parents and experts in our community.
Only members can view and participate in conversations.
Child’s nickname is private and only you can see it.