Sensory Routine: Back To School Nightly Routine to Help Sensory Kids
This article provides helpful sensory routine information for sensory children that need special back to school routines to help them better in school. Affiliate links included for your convenience.
I’ve done it enough times, I know I’m not alone. Back to school time occasionally creeps up on us, other times it knocks us down hard. Going back to school, returning to a regular schedule and homework tend to get many kids a little anxious, let alone children with sensory issues. I’m frantically organizing after-school schedules and checking with teachers to alleviate some of that first day anxiety.
If you are a parent of a school-age child that struggles with a sensory processing disorder, learning disability or an anxiety disorder, you know the struggles well. As the child gets older, it does get easier to predict the melt-downs. It seems as though you can eliminate a few sensory triggers that dictate an evening filled with tears. But what if you haven’t done this before? Or maybe the tricks you used last year weren’t as effective as you would’ve hoped?
Sensory Routine At Home
We’ve heard it for years; kids all have different learning styles. Every student has a unique way of learning in school. While teachers attempt to meet all the varying learning personalities in their classroom, many times they don’t have the time or resources to devote to each student individually. However, more teachers are becoming familiar with sensory issues and how they can help their students struggling with these learning challenges. They handle a multitude of concerns that come up over the course of each school day.
Because there is a great deal of information available about sensory issues, you can better help your sensory child achieve in school. There is a lot we can do as parents to help our kids have great start to their school day. Countless articles have gone over the importance of a sensory routine for any child, especially those with any anxiety or sensory processing concerns. To enhance sensory integration and reduce anxiety, you can introduce some evening tricks into your child’s daily routine that may help with transitions and give your child those calming moments that they desperately crave.
5 Tricks For a Smooth School Night
Here are five simple sensory routine tricks you can try at home to help relieve the pressure of sensory issues.
Create a schedule
Come up with a nightly schedule that works for your child and your family. Have regular times that you do the same tasks. If your child has dance or soccer one evening, make out a schedule for that particular night. Print the schedules and post! This schedule does not need to be fancy. A few minutes on a computer and you can have one ready. I have copies of my kids’ evening schedules in the kitchen and in their rooms. I am surprised at how often they check the schedule. This little bit of organization on my part helps with their anxiety about what they are supposed to be doing at any given time.
Extra tip: It has been shown that the human mind needs a break from focusing on a particular task. Don’t schedule an activity, for instance homework, for longer than 45 minutes. The child will completely lose focus and won’t get much out of any extra time spent on a worksheet.
Lay out an outfit for the next day
This is my number one trick. Getting dressed every morning used to end in a melt-down or fight. Every. Single. Morning. Allow changes and be flexible in the morning, but this trick is one of the most helpful. I’m not just talking about laying out a shirt and pants; pull out the socks, shoes, jewelry, hair bows, etc. If there is something itchy, avoid laying it out. If there are tags your child doesn’t like, clip them out of their shirts and pants. If they prefer short sleeves over long sleeves, lay out more t-shirts. You can also get special sensory clothes for them, like these sensory vests, sensory shorts, and sensory shirts. When kids have a direction, it makes sense to them. Gone are the days of missing boots or finding that beloved sweater.
All backpacks, homework, papers in one place
Another big help to alleviate morning stress. I have each one of my kids pack their bags. This helps with their attention and focus when morning comes. During this time, we go through their schoolwork so I have an idea of their strengths and weaknesses with current studies. I can sign anything and place it in their school folder, and make sure their homework is ready to go. Everything is packed and ready to be grabbed, including their lunch, which I make the night before. My kids fill their own water bottles and place them in the refrigerator. This allows for quick mornings, and all they have to do is grab their lunch, water bottle and backpacks.
Some time to talk
Talk about tomorrow’s expectations, what your child is excited for, concerned about and current needs. Discuss any upcoming stressors such as celebrations, parties, or tests. Dialogue time is sometimes overlooked, but a necessity, in my opinion, with a child that deals with sensory or anxiety issues. When you lay out the plan, a certain amount of anxiety decreases when the event approaches.
A good day starts with a good night’s sleep
I have lax bedtimes during the summer. Mornings are relaxed and schedules are lenient. Once school is ready to begin, I start moving those bedtimes up. There is always complaining, but stay strong. Routines take time. The number one reason why a schedule doesn’t work for a child, is because it takes a while for the child to comply and parents, sometimes, give up too soon. It may take a few days or weeks to get in the grove, but it will be worth it.
Extra tip: Don’t allow T.V or other electronics an hour before bedtime. Once it’s time to get into bed, do things that help relax your child. You know your little one best. Make sure there is no extra stimuli in their room that prevents them from getting good rest. Read to them and have them read to you. This is a great time to really connect.
Some kids have a harder time processing and handling the information that their senses take in. A simple thing, like the paint color in their bedroom, can over stimulate their little bodies and make sleep a struggle. Be aware and be willing to adapt to make the sensory stimulation a minimum for a child that needs this assistance. Children with sensory issues can achieve school success with a few nightly tips parents can utilize on a daily basis.
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