A new school year offers a fresh start for students, but children with intellectual disabilities may need a little extra help adjusting.
A new school year gives your child an exciting opportunity to make new friendships and explore a world of unfamiliar subjects. It also requires them to adapt to new surroundings, routines, and expectations. This transition period is tricky for every student, but for children with intellectual disabilities, this process may involve unique roadblocks that require parents to take a sensitive and informed approach.
If your child has trouble processing, learning, or responding to new information, facing the new school year might feel daunting for your family. Give your student the best possible start by doing your own homework and learning these helpful back-to-school tips for children with intellectual disabilities.
1. Build Relationships with Educators
School can give your child the opportunity to develop new social skills through play and build important relationships with peers, but social success may also depend on your own efforts during the school year. Make it a priority to form positive relationships with the adults at your child’s school, especially the teachers and therapists who will interact with them and track their progress on a regular basis.
Prevent miscommunication by being upfront about your child’s intellectual disabilities. It’s also important to make your expectations known and be available to discuss your child’s progress on a consistent schedule. Attend meetings, take notes, ask questions, and be open to the process of helping your child as the member of a caring team.
2. Make Reading Fun at Home
Reading skills are the foundation of every child’s education, so you should not allow intellectual disabilities to make reading feel frustrating for your child. As your child’s reading skills continue to develop, look for every opportunity to encourage reading and make it fun.
Practice reading cereal boxes at breakfast, billboards on errand runs, and books with eye-catching pictures or engaging stories. As you read aloud or encourage your child to practice reading, it may feel more natural or fun for them to absorb new vocabulary words and grammar rules at home before applying them in the classroom. Adopting an involved, proactive parenting style can help propel your child toward reading success.
3. Understand Your Child’s Perspective
Communication is key in any parent-child relationship, but as your child’s education advocate, it’s especially important to keep an open dialogue and understand their perspective. Instead of basing your parenting approach solely on the feedback you receive from educators, ask your child detailed questions about therapy sessions, classes, extracurricular activities, tutoring lessons, and other aspects of their time in school.
Pay special attention to how your child describes interactions with other students. Intellectual disabilities can make children targets for bullying, so it’s crucial that your child feels comfortable sharing both the successes and struggles they experience at school.
4. Be Prepared to Make Adjustments
Every child is unique, and your child’s academic journey will be unique, too. While these back-to-school tips can help parents of children with intellectual disabilities navigate the new school year, it’s important to keep your child’s individual needs in mind. Don’t be afraid to tweak your approach as needed and find what works best for your child. After all, a new school year is a learning experience for every member of your family.
To learn about our programs for children with intellectual disabilities, contact Integrity Inc. at 501-406-0442. For over 20 years, Integrity, Inc. has been providing support services for families just like yours.