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Finishing the School Year


Going from one grade to another is a big step for all kids, especially those with special needs. Since routine is so important to people with Autism, there is no doubt that the long summer break and stepping up to the next grade is stressful. As a parent, you can’t change the seasonal flow of life to fit your child’s comfort level, but you can focus on finishing the school year well and setting your child up for success until Fall.

(1) Get an accurate/honest assessment from your child’s classroom teacher about how they’re doing in class (and socially on the playground)

Some teachers feel shy about telling parents what their child is struggling with, especially at the end of the school year. Tell your child’s teacher that you can handle it, and would like to know an honest report of their strengths and weaknesses so that you can prepare the child’s next teacher. This is particularly pertinent if you are changing schools, but even when you are staying at the same school, it is good for you to communicate directly with teachers. You are your child’s biggest advocate, but also remember, teachers are professionals and even when speaking with them directly – be respectful! Getting off on the wrong foot with your child’s new teacher can effect your child’s relationship with the teacher, and their education.

(2) Make a big calendar of what the next few months look like

If you have the space, make a big calendar of June, July & August and post them on a wall in your house. Write on the calendar what is happening – when does school finish? When does school go back? When is summer camp? When are you going on vacation? If your child isn’t able to read yet, use visual symbols and explain what they mean. At some point every day, go over this calendar together.

(3) Make closure concrete by having your child write cards/give gifts

Prepare your child with a gift for the teacher, and something small for all the kids. Use the last weekend of the school year to sit down and write something that your child appreciates about each classmate on a little card. If writing fatigues your child, write it yourself with their ideas. This ritual will help your child realize that the year is ending and things are changing. Making a ritual of closure can help more than you know.

(4) Weave some kind of routine into every summer day 

No matter what happens over your summer, make “bookends”. This means that you keep the start and the end the same. Maybe you wake up with a certain song and have the same breakfast every day, and go to bed with a different song and a certain ritual. No matter where in the world you find yourself, keep some familiar routines!

Good luck with the end of the school year from all of us at Kahlon Family Services.

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