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Parents and students always feel a bit nervous about the start of a new school year. This can be especially true for families when the previous school year was not the best. Our children look forward to reconnecting with friends, getting some new clothes and being with new teachers. At the same time they may be concerned about riding the bus for the first time, entering a new classroom or transitioning to a new school.

Our students with ADHD and LD might need several exposures to new situations before they feel comfortable. Or, you may be the one who is concerned about these new experiences, and your student feels just fine! How do we make everyone feel more confident about the new beginning?

  • Change to “school” hours at home for bedtime and getting up in the morning. This will help adjust the student’s Circadian rhythm, allowing him to be “powered on” at the right time for school. No more getting up at 10 a.m. If your child is having difficulty going to sleep at the “school” bedtime, encourage a family walk or bike ride after dinner, and turn off “blue screen” devices at least an hour before bedtime.
  • If transportation is changing for your student, do a practice run-through. Practice walking with them to school and back. Drive the bus route, so they know what that will look like when going to school or leaving school. Point out landmarks. 
  • Plan for a positive first week. Have your child pick out her clothes for the first few days. Choose some special treats for lunch. It might be easier to bring a packed lunch the first few days.  
  • Plan low-stress evenings for the first few days of school. No running out to buy new clothes. No late nights at work. Be available to share impressions of the first few days. Going for an ice cream or a walk together might encourage conversation.

Blogger Mary Ann Mulcahey, PhD, shares her expertise in assessment and diagnosis of learning disabilities and ADHD, and the social/emotional adjustment to those issues.

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