If you read my post about preparing your autistic child for school holidays, hopefully you’ll have some strategies stored to make the transition between school routine and holidays at home easier. Of course, it can also work the other way; children may manage really well in the holidays, but become incredibly anxious about returning to school after a break, so here are some things you can try to minimise the stress for your child and, in turn you too!
Returning to School After a Break – 7 things to try
1. Use a visual countdown. Your child will feel better prepared for the end of the holiday/start of the new term if they can see exactly how many days, or sleeps, or however you want to measure it – they have left. Use a calendar, or a visual chart to count down the days so that it’s clear for them.
2. Use social stories and visuals. Using a social story, or a book of photographs of your child’s school can help them to remember what’s what and what’s expected. Reminders of routines – morning, school and home time are useful. Ask your school if they can make up a book, or see if there are pictures on the school website that you can use.
3. Talk about the holidays. Talking with you child about the holidays – what they did, where they went and who with, and how they felt, will help them to process what’s happened and the passing of time. You could give them a camera to take photographs to look through, or even make a collage or scrapbook of activities and days out.
4. Meet up with friends. Meeting up with school friends during the holidays means the lines between school and home blur a little making the transition back into school smoother. It will give your child chance to keep up with their social skills too. You could even try Skyping or Facetime if your child feels more comfortable.
5. Do the new term shop together. If you are able to take your child shopping, involving them in buying new school shoes, uniform and stationery can help them to understand that the change is coming and gives them some control over it in the form of choice.
6. Ask them to help prepare. The night before they go back to school, involve them in getting their things ready; lay out uniform, and pack their school bag with their pens, pencils and books. You could even ask them to help label their new things. Again, this helps to reinforce that the holiday is ending and school is starting the next day.
7. Relax! Don’t plan anything big or exciting for the day before the return to school. Try to remain relaxed, with low-stimulation activities and if you, the parent, are feeling anxious about how things will go in the morning, try not to show it. You could try baking together – perhaps make something that they can take in their lunchbox or as an after-school snack, ready for the next day.
Hopefully, implementing these ideas will make returning to school after a break a little easier for your child – and you! Do you have any tried and tested tips you could add? Please leave a comment!
If your child thrives on the routine of term time, but struggles to adjust to school holidays, take a look at my tips for helping them to cope.