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Back in Session – Preparing for Success As Your Child Returns To School

Pencils and backpacks are lining the stores, which means one thing – a new school year is just around the corner. But once the supplies are purchased, what else can you do to get your child ready for school? We asked our clinical social worker, Monica Handlos, to share some things to remember before the bell rings.

What else tops your list for back to school prep? Maybe it’s an annual tradition to visit the State Fair, go clothes shopping, or pack bags before the year begins. Share your keys to success for a great year in the comments!

Communicate with Staff

_T6K1572Having a conversation with your child’s teacher(s) is a great way to open up the lines of communication for the rest of the year while also ensuring your child’s teacher understands his or her needs and is aware of meeting them. Depending on who else your child might be working with at the school, involving them in the conversation is beneficial for everyone. If your child is old enough, give them the opportunity to talk to the staff about any needs, concerns or questions as well, so they are comfortable expressing their needs down the road.

Re-establish School Routines

_T6K8969Throughout the summer, schedules tend to get a little more relaxed – bedtimes are flexible, and getting out the door at a certain time isn’t such a priority. Use the last couple of weeks before school starts to get back into the routine of getting up and going to school. Get your child up when they will need to during the school year, serve meals around the same time they will be served at school, and enforce a bedtime. This will help make the process much smoother once the first day of school comes around!

Contact a Child Life Specialist

If you have worked with a child life specialist at the hospital and think classmates will have questions about your child’s medical needs in school, consider contacting a specialist to talk to your child’s class about what makes him or her unique, and answer any questions they might have about your child’s cares or needs. Letting classmates know that it’s okay to interact and ask questions will encourage dialogue and create a more open environment in the classroom. Be sure to arrange a time that works with the class schedule at school as well.

Maddie_schoolSimilarly, if your child will be receiving infusions or other therapies during school, their PHS clinician can spend some time talking to the class about what is going to be going on and explain why they will be in school with the child. Just talk to your clinician and the school about the opportunity to set this up! For an adorable look back at when one of our infusion nurses visited a class, check out this video where PHS kiddo Maddie shows us where her admirer sits.

Stay Up to Date

Whether they are entering kindergarten, high school, or college, children of all ages need to keep up to date with vaccines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides a number of resources for parents to make sure their child’s vaccine needs are being met – this page breaks vaccine needs down by the age of your child so protection and prevention is a breeze.

Advocate

_T6K3237Once school has started and everyone is settling into their routine, ensure your child’s rights and needs are being met. If they aren’t, you can contact PACER, whose mission is to expand opportunities and enhance the quality of life of children and young adults with disabilities and their families. Give them a call at 1-800-537-2237 or submit a request online.

If your kiddo is a PHS patient, you can also contact Monica Handlos – just call us at 651-642-1825 and ask to be connected with her.

Originally published: August 22, 2014

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