For neurodiverse children, the difference between home and school can seem vast and frightening, especially when attending a new school. Unfamiliar faces, new rules, and new routines can feel overwhelming. You can help ease the transition by following a few simple routines. This blog gives tips to help ease the transition from home to school. 

1. Establish a Drop Off Ritual

Drop off can feel difficult for both parents and children alike. Establishing a structured routine for drop off can ease the tension of leaving your child at school and manage your child’s anxiety. A drop off ritual is a set of movements/gestures/words that are repeated at drop off every day. For example, the parent may leave and blow two kisses through the window and the child may blow two kisses back. Then the routine is finished. Some parents may give a hug and a high five, then leave. Some parents have also used a repeated phrase or mantra such as “Mommy loves you, misses you, and will see you where? At dinner time!” The repetition gives children both something to look forward to and manages anxiety around leaving. 

2. Create a Visual Pickup Schedule

Different routines for different days of the week? No problem. Children can learn flexibility if their expectations are managed, and they are communicated with clearly. Teaching children to use a calendar through pictures is a great start. Some parents create a calendar and put pictures of the individuals picking the child up from school each day. Perhaps grandparents will pick up the child Tuesdays and Thursdays and the babysitter picks up Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Create a picture chart and keep it in a common area at your child’s eye level. 

3. Connect with Your Child’s Teacher 

For some children, it may be helpful to bring objects from home into the classroom– talk with your child’s teacher about what objects would be helpful for your child without being distracting to the class. For example, many early learning classrooms encourage parents to bring in family photos so that children can have visual reminders of their families during the day. Some classrooms will also allow children to use a personal stuffed animal or pillow during rest times. These objects can help bridge the gap between home and school by making rest times feel more familiar and comforting. 

4. Bring Classroom Activities Home 

Asking your child about their favorite activities at school can both help make some classroom routines more familiar and make the home more educational. For example, if your child really enjoys painting, you can involve the whole family in a painting project at the kitchen table by allowing your child to lead the activity and explain how they paint at school. 

Merlin Day Academy Therapeutic Classroom

While these strategies can help children get more comfortable transitioning from home to school, a traditional classroom environment is not the ideal environment for everyone. We developed Merlin Day Academy for children that need a more supportive, sensory friendly learning environment. Merlin Day Academy provides special education in a unique, sensory integrated therapeutic environment for children ages 6-14 with neuro-diverse learning needs including those with autism, down syndrome, and intellectual, learning, or emotional disabilities. Our sister company, Eyas Landing’s therapists, provide occupational therapy, applied behavior analysis (ABA), developmental therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, language therapy, nutrition, and feeding therapy services to Merlin Day Academy students to provide them with an ideal environment for learning.