Seeing back to school supplies is a reminder to me that for many students going back to school, or especially changing schools can be challenging.
Because of a move, going from elementary school to middle school, middle school to high school, or on to post secondary education, there are a lot of new things to think about.
As an occupational therapist, I often help parent, students, teachers and schools with this transition when a student has a special need, but these all these new things to think about apply to all students.
Create an -All About Me at School Guide- that can be shared with new teachers.
Parents observe the following and write down your answers. Teachers, ask the following of parents about a new student in your classroom.
- Is you’re your child fully integrated or a only partially integrated into the classroom?
- Does your current school or classroom teacher follow any specific curriculum or approach to help your child?
- What are your child's academic strengths?
- What are your child’s academic weaknesses?
- Does your child’s school report any specific behavioral concerns to you?
- Does your child’s school report any specific academic difficulties to you?
- In your opinion, what is the most important thing for your child to learn at school?
- How much assistance does your child need at school?
- What adaptations has the school made for your child?
- Does your child interact well with peers at school?
- Does your child participate in any after-school activities or school clubs?
- What does your child like most about school?
- What does your child like least about school?
- Are there times of the school day that are more difficult for your child? Why so?
- Does your child have difficulty getting ready to go to school or getting onto the bus or into the car to go to school?
- Does your child appear to enjoy school? Why or why not?
- If your child is in high school, does the school encourage pre-vocational skills? And does the school have a plan for transition out of school?
Teachers observe the following about your student. And parents, ask these questions about your child.
- How involved is this student in the curriculum and activities of the classroom?
- How much assistance must you provide this student in your classroom?
- What are the student’s academic strengths?
- What are the student’s academic weaknesses?
- What are the student’s behavioural strengths?
- What are the student’s behavioural weaknesses?
- Are there specific times of the day or specific activities that are particularly difficult for the student?
- Does the student interact with classmates?
- Does the student appear happy and calm, anxious, or withdrawn while in school?
- What does the student appear to like most about school?
- What does the student appear to like least about school?
- What modifications have you tried that have been helpful?
- How have you successfully dealt with difficult behaviours in the classroom?
- If the student is in high school, does your school encourage pre-vocational skills?
- Does your school have a plan for transition out of school for the student?
Things I, the occupational therapist, always raise in team meetings when a child is going to school (or a new school) for the first time.
As an occupational therapist, I like to think about all the "occupations" a child will be engaging in a school. So, I try to ensure that important things as follows are raised.
- How is the child getting to school? Riding a school bus, learning a new route can be challenging. Figuring out what is most likely to work best for the child before school starts is always a good idea.
- Eating in the classroom, cafeteria or other. Making sure snack and lunch time are set up for success is critical. Nutrition is key to learning!
- Bathrooms! Sorting out what bathrooms are going to be used and if the child is going to need help in the bathroom sometimes gets missed, so I always bring it up.
MOST IMPORTANT, things for your child to write or record.
- What I like best about school?
- What is the hardest thing for me at school?
- What helps me the most at school?
Going back to school after summer vacation can be hard. Your child may be anxious about going to school. You many be anxious about your child going to school or changing schools. Create an All About Me at School Guide to allay your anxiety and get ready for a great start to school.
If you are ever wondering if occupational therapy can help you child at school, download this eBook. In New Brunswick, call us a 1.877.784.5353 or 506.847.0677, we travel to schools throughout the province to help students at school.