Getting in our Groove: How We Prep for Back to School

It’s quite possibly the most bittersweet time of year for us here -- back to school. As much as I dread the summers as far as losing my guaranteed work hours and “me” time that’s been gifted to me these past two years, I always wind up loving our summertime magic so much and hate to see it end. This year was no exception. It flew by in a whirlwind of art camps, bowling, vacations, visits and adventures. It’s quite possibly been my favorite summer of even my life so far.

Addie couldn’t be more excited to return to school and start second grade while Zach seems fairly eager to check out third grade this year. Last year, Addie was all about reading and art, some science and math while Zach most loved recess (no surprise), lunch (definitely no surprise), P.E. (no surprises again!) and music.

Wendy Zook Photography, Down Syndrome, Down Syndrome Awareness, Down Syndrome Parent, Back to school, Special Needs parent, Special Needs school plan, inclusion

I don’t know if there’s any kid out there who can super-easily step directly from summertime pools and late mornings and laidback rules to full days of academics and lessons. My kids, especially Zachary, need some transition help for a more successful first few days of school. Here’s some things we do to help them out.

1. Talk about it, talk about it, talk about it.
We spend a lot of time in the last couple of weeks talking about going back to school, repeating our teachers’ names, counting down how many days til school starts and practicing our bus number. You’re likely to find some random Post-It notes around our house with all that info on it, too, just as visual reminders.

2. Tour Time!
Each year, we’ve requested a super-quick and informal meeting with Zach’s teacher and tour of his classroom in the week before school begins. It’s just another great reminder and visual cue for him to recognize the teacher, know where his cubby will be and take in the classroom without 24 other kids running around with a lot of noise. It’s become a part of our spring review meeting process, just planning for this tour.

Wendy Zook Photography, Down Syndrome, Down Syndrome Awareness, Down Syndrome Parent, Back to school, Special Needs parent, Special Needs school plan, inclusion

3. Get your stuff together
We get all of our school supplies in early August and pack it all up in backpacks (that we clean, too!) by mid-August. The kids do most of it themselves and take pride in their new supplies, recognize what they’ll be using. We also try on the backpacks a few times so they have practice with the weight on their back again. We also talk about lunches and snacks they would like (they’re going to help me make their lunches this year!), make sure their water bottles are clean, sturdy and washed up and ready. We practice using our water bottles and lunch boxes for a couple of weeks, too, so that we know they can open them and use them on their own.

Wendy Zook Photography, Down Syndrome, Down Syndrome Awareness, Down Syndrome Parent, Back to school, Special Needs parent, Special Needs school plan, inclusion

We’re wishing you and your kiddos a very happy and easy transition back to school! You’re all going to rock the 2019-2020 year!