By Kristal Clark & Kristin Lyle
This year has been yet another tough year for our kids with school. We are each moms, one to five kids and the other to two. We have children who struggle in school with issues related to ADHD, OCD, anxiety, Autism, depression, mood disorders, and learning disabilities. Seeing them struggle hurts our hearts and induces anxiety. We are navigating 4 different schools in two different states. We have both found that there are many systematic challenges working against us as we try to facilitate a successful school year for our kids. Here we are again, another school year over, and some of our kids are just getting by at grade level, while some of the others continue to struggle socially and emotionally. How does this keep happening every year? School related issues like those our kids experience could be blamed on homeschooling and social isolation from COVID in the previous two years, but this year, they were in school full time. What happened? How can we be sure this doesn’t happen again this coming school year? There must be things we can do now to set them up for success by the end of the summer.
After we have done all that we can personally for our kids, we realize that we cannot do this alone. We need to effectively use the tools that are already in place. We must work to identify the people, programs, and things we can access over the summer to ensure future success. Although we have not started this adventure yet, we want to share what we have set up for this summer to provide a stronger foundation for next school year and beyond. They may not all apply to every family, but maybe you can take some things from our list to set your children up for a better 2022/2023 school year :
Schedule a neuropsych evaluation to pinpoint exactly where your child needs support.
Schedule their annual physical now to get it in before the end of the summer.
Before school ends, request an IEP or 504 meeting be scheduled before school starts again. Invite your child’s therapist, pediatrician, and other relevant providers in advance.
Navigating the educational system is overwhelming, look into hiring an advocate or join an online group for support.
Get your child on waiting lists for occupational therapy, physical therapy, mental health care, or other relevant services.
Find out what summer programs are available through the school. Some schools offer in-person support, while others only have virtual options. Virtual options don’t work for all kids. Hiring a private tutor can fill in those gaps.
Join the summer reading program at your local library.
Find out if your community offers any specialized camps that focus on social skills, life skills, or other areas that your child may benefit from.
Create a routine for the summer to help your child regulate. Wake up, eat, read, and play at the same time every day. Your child will benefit from knowing the schedule, as well as when appointments are scheduled.
Shift the schedule three weeks before summer ends to transition to school days. If your child eats from the school cafeteria, print out the menu for them so they know what to expect.
It is our hope that, in doing these things for our kids, they will have a better school experience this upcoming year. With all of that in place, we can kick back, play, and enjoy our summer.