While you can’t always know what your child is thinking, chances are he is both excited and nervous about starting school. Think back to your own thoughts and feelings when you started school for the first time. Here is a list of some worries children may have.
- Who will play with me?
- What if I get lost?
- Who can I ask for help?
- Where do I put my coat and bag?
- I miss my Mom and Dad.
- What if the bus driver forgets where I live?
- What if the teacher asks me a question and I don’t know the answer?
- I’m afraid to use the washroom.
Children with special needs may find it difficult to express their fears and worries about starting school. As a parent, you can help your child by making him familiar with what school will be like and all the things he can look forward to learning. You can also put plans in place to deal with his fears and anxieties. If your child becomes so anxious about school that his typical eating, sleeping, or washroom routines are disrupted, please contact a professional.
Parents often have their share of worries as well. This is understandable as having a child start school can bring changes to the whole family’s routine. Parents who were previously at home with their child may be returning to work. After school child care arrangements may have to change as well. As a parent of a child with special needs you may also be concerned about how your child will “fit in” at school.
It is important to remember that it’s impossible to prepare your child for every new experience he will encounter at school. Much of our learning in both childhood and adulthood occurs when we face the unexpected. Your child will have days when he comes home buzzing with excitement, eager to show you a picture he has painted, or how he can print his name.
Your child will also have days when he comes home frustrated by things he finds difficult to learn. At these times, it is important to acknowledge your child’s frustration and praise him for his efforts. You can let him know that everyone learns at a different pace and it’s OK if he needs more time to practice a new skill. If you find that your child is frustrated more often than not, you may want to meet with his teacher to figure out what the cause may be. Regardless of exceptionalities, all children still differ from one another to varying degrees. Every child has a unique combination of abilities and needs, interests and fears, and successes and failures. These individual differences are present throughout our lives and are a part of human nature.
Finally, always take time to relax and have some fun with your child and his brothers or sisters. When you visit the park, prepare a meal together, or rent a movie, you are showing your children that your love is not based on their academic achievement.