I don't want to think about it. No, no, no... yet I must face the fact that summer is winding down. Lazy days filled with flip flops, swimming pools and lemonade will soon be replaced with new school shoes, pencils and backpacks.
For parents of children who have learning differences (like my own), back to school can be a time of anxiety.
How do we make the best of the final weeks of summer? Here are five quick tips to beat back to school stress for students who learn differently.
5. Practice with New Assistive Technology
Will your child be using audiobooks for the first time this year? Word prediction software or other tools? "Spending some time practicing new assistive technology over the summer helps prepare students to use it effectively once the school year begins," advises Sally Pistilli, a Learning Ally parent support coordinator. "Once school starts, there are so many other new things to learn!"
She also suggest spending some time on the new Explore 1in5
site, specifically on the Tips, Tools and Tech
4. Ask About Curriculum
Get your hands on the syllabus and/or required reading for the coming year. This can be tricky during the middle of summer. If you know other parents at the school, ask around. Often enough, school offices are
open at certain times during the summer.
Once you know what's coming up, seek out fun ways to get a head start. "One summer, we got tickets to see MacBeth
with Ethan Hawke because my daughter was going to be studying it in class that year," says parent support specialist Norma Francullo. "Reading Shakespeare is quite challenging, but seeing it performed on stage is extremely helpful."
3. Make a Presentation for Your Teacher
Last year, my then eight year old prepared a power-point about dyslexia that he presented to his teacher (in a parent, student teacher only meeting) before school began. This went so far to ease his anxiety! He was able to tell her about his strengths and weaknesses. He even asked her the top question on his mind: "Do you only use very big books in the third grade?"
Visit Explore 1in5's Self Advocacy page for sample presentations, as well as a template and outline for making your own presentation!
2. Slowly Re-set Internal Sleep Clock
This one will be difficult for us! My kids stay up late all summer, which also means they sleep late.
"Sleep is so important to brain development," says parent support specialist Meriah Houser. "Kids need to reset their internal sleep clock slowly. Start by setting a slightly earlier bedtime and wake-up time, then add a little bit to that time each day. That way, you are slowly transitioning them to a back to school routine."
1. Blow Off Steam & Enjoy Summer!
Veteran parent Lissa True, director of Learning Ally's YES! Program
, gives some of the best advice yet: "Make time to
blow off steam and enjoy the rest of summer!"
Kids work so hard all year long, especially kids who learn differently. Don't get so stressed out over going back to school that you forget you aren't actually heading back to class just yet. Have as much fun during the second half of summer break as you did during the first half!
To be ready for back-to-school, also make sure your child's Learning Ally audiobook subscription is ready to go. Go to LearningAlly.org/Join to sign up today and access over 82,000 human narrated audiobooks including textbooks!
About the author: Julya Johnson
is the social media community leader at Learning Ally,
and the parent to two children who have dyslexia. In 2013, she co-founded Decoding Dyslexia-TN
. She's also an AOGPE associate level member/tutor, a graduate of Ron Yoshimoto's OG International
program, and a member of the Tennessee Branch of the International Dyslexia Association.