As a new school and ministry year gets underway, our school and church consultants know there is a lot on your mind. But no need to fret! We have six steps you can take to ease the transition into school and church programs so all students feel more comfortable starting out the new year.
Set the routine.
Start getting into the routine of going to bed earlier and getting up earlier before school actually begins.
Take a tour.
Each school year can be full of new places and people, whether it is at school, church, or after-school activities. Try to visit these new places (outside of an open house) a few weeks ahead of time if your son or daughter seems anxious.
Meet the key people.
When you visit the new places, arrange to meet the teachers, principal, and/or ministry leaders for a one-on-one time. This meeting is a great time to share your child’s strengths and areas of need, and any concerns for the upcoming year.
Go over the schedule.
If your student is in middle or high school, go over their school schedule at home, preferably with pictures. Be sure to emphasize that schedules can change, so use words like “typically” and “usually”. When you take a tour of the school, walk through the classrooms to help your son or daughter see where their classes will be.
Write a social story.
Creating a social story with your son or daughter can help them preview an activity before it actually takes place. You can easily create a social story on PowerPoint or with a photo book. Some examples of back-to-school social stories you can write include:
- Introduction to the first day of school
- Introduction to children’s church
- How to put materials away in art class
- How to go through the lunch line
Read the social story every day before the actual activity starts.
Need some examples? Barbara J. Newman shares tips for creating a social story in this blog post. We’ve also created two customizable work books you can use to introduce a child to a new church or school. You can purchase both the “School Welcome Story” and “Church Welcome Story” on the CLC Network website.
If your son or daughter is nervous socially, schedule a play date or time to meet other students from their school or church. If they’re new to the school or church, work with their teacher, pastor, or ministry leaders to introduce friends that might connect well with your son or daughter.
How about you? What tips do you have for easing into this new school and ministry year?
Katie Barkley is the marketing communications manager at CLC Network.