3 Top Tips to help make the first year at school a success!

Starting Kindergarten is a momentous and sometimes daunting event for both children and parents. If a child has special needs, the anxiety experienced by parents and child can be magnified even more with concerns because of physical disabilities and speech impairments. Prior to your child’s first day at ‘big school’, there are many things you can do to ensure the experience is a positive one for all. The aim, of course, is to support children so that they are keen to go to school each day, and settle quickly into the routines and expectations of their new learning environment. When this happens, your child will inevitably start to progress sooner and achieve more highly.

So as the new school term begins, here are 3 top tips to make the first year at school a success:

1. Familiarize your child with the routine for school.

  • This will include getting to bed early and waking up early to go to school, having breakfast, getting dressed and packing their school bags. 
  • For children with special needs, it is important to talk about the school day and expected routines to reduce uncertainty and anxiety. Use a picture chart to show the expected routine of the school day. 

2. Help the teachers to know your child.

  • Meet the teachers to talk about your child and many concerns that you or your child may have, including particular behaviours that your child will exhibit when stressed. 
  • For children with special needs, it is important to advise the teachers of feeding routines, mobility needs, stress-response behaviours and effective strategies to help settle your child. This may be having access to a wobble cushion for sensory feedback, or strategies to de-escalate a stressful situation. 
  • If your child has physical disabilities and has regular physiotherapy intervention, it might be helpful to discuss options for the school to allow your child to have access to ongoing physiotherapy. This may be to organize for your physiotherapist to do school visits, or to be able to leave school earlier to start later on days when they have a therapy appointment. 

3. Create supportive networks for yourself as parents.

  • Establish clear and open communication channels with the class teacher and school so that you feel confident that you are informed of your child’ s progress daily. This would allow for both positive and negative feedback between the school staff and yourself right from the start, and ensure that if any issues arises during the year, both parties will feel comfortable to discuss the issues without frustrations. 
  • Most school principals are very open to having discussions with you to ensure that your child’s needs are supported. If your child has special needs, this may include having meetings between the school and your child’s therapist. 
  • Be open to new friendships with fellow parents, as they will be a great source of support in the coming weeks and years. Get involved in school activities as a volunteer so you have opportunities to meet and chat with other parents about shared experiences and emotions. 

At My Favourite Physio, our Paediatric Physiotherapist has many years of experience in helping families and children with special needs in the process of establishing routines and communications with schools as the children start school. If you are concerned that your child’s needs may not be met when they start school within the school environment or if your child’s school would like some support with your child at school, contact our Paediatric Physiotherapist on 9790 4233 for an appointment today.