Navigating Back to School for Foster Children or Children with I/DD
Starting a new school year can be exciting for many children but can also cause anxiety in others, especially foster children and children with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD). Most children thrive when they know what to expect in various situations, and beginning a new school year is no different. Preparing before school begins can save you and your family a lot of heartache and frustration. RISE Services, Inc. works with many families with foster children or children with (I/DD). We recommend the following tips for confidently navigating the back-to-school season with your children.
Create a School Calendar & Daily Schedule
Foster children and children with I/DD often thrive when families use calendars, schedules, and routines. These tools can be valuable for making that smooth back-to-school transition. Be sure to personalize the calendar or routine for your child and base it on their age and preferences. Are they old enough to read, or are visual reminders better? Do they like to check items off as they do them or move an icon when the task is complete? A quick search on Google or Pinterest offers inspiration for designing simple and creative schedules.
Help Them Get Ready for the First Day of School
The few weeks before the first day of school are a great time to prepare your kids for new routines and expectations. Begin by positively talking about school. Then, review their class schedule with them, ask what they’re looking forward to the most, or plan a special treat when you pick them up that first day. Start practicing your new routine the week before school, including gathering their clothes the night before, getting their backpacks ready, setting out medications or vitamins to take in the morning, and other helpful tasks. This can minimize school morning chaos and set your kids up for a great day.
Review IEPs or 504s
Schools typically hold IEP reviews annually, but only periodic reviews are required for 504s. If you feel a need, ask for a meeting with the school guidance counselor or school staff to review your child’s IEP or 504. Different challenges may have come up over the summer with your child with an I/DD, or your foster children may have moved in right after school ended last year. Transitions from middle to high school, or even kindergarten to first grade, may require an IEP or 504 change. Anytime you think there’s a need, request a 504 or IEP review.
Attend School Open Houses
Visit your child’s school and classroom with them during annual open houses, or call the school to schedule a personalized visit. Your children can meet their teacher, see their desk, or learn the location of the lunchroom or library. Older students can get accustomed to their new school, try opening their lockers, or check in with friends and compare class schedules.
Introduce Yourself to Teachers & Therapists
You know your foster child or child with an I/DD best and are their most important advocate. Be sure to introduce yourself to their teachers and school therapists and communicate essential information regarding your child’s I/DD or foster care situation. They may be overwhelmed meeting new students and their families, so consider emailing them with any important information, including how to contact you best.
Support for I/DD & Foster Families
RISE works with and supports families in several states across the U.S., providing ABA therapy, habilitation intervention, and related services for children with I/DD. In addition, we offer loving and stable homes for foster children. Contact us today to learn more about our growth opportunities for children, adults, and their families.
Source: Rudy, Lisa Jo. “11 Back-to-School Tips for Parents of Disabled Children.” Web article. Verywell Family. Dotdash Meredith, 24 Jun. 2022. Web. 05 Aug. 2023.