Welcome to Julie Billiart Schools, a family of K-8 coeducational, independent day schools for children with learning differences.


Monday, July 05, 2021

The end of summer vacation is bittersweet. On one hand, the resumption of school can be an intimidating thought after a three-month brain break. On the other hand, students are eager to see their friends and teachers, and start showing you how smart, creative, and independent they can be. No matter the grade, a student’s return to school can be marred if it’s too abrupt or chaotic. But, if proper steps are taken to ensure that students are prepared for a change in their daily routines, they can navigate the new school year with success from the start. Helping them learn to be self-sufficient, confident, and aware of expectations before school starts will benefit everyone involved in their educational journey. And here are five ways you can do it.

Reset the sleep schedule one week before school starts

A summer of staying up late and sleeping in can wreak havoc on your child’s internal clock. Once school starts, he or she will need to be up and alert early, and ready to function and engage during the day. Experts suggest children between 6-13 years old require between 9-11 hours of sleep. You know better than anyone whether or not that number is low, high, or just right for your child. By combining those pieces of information, you can create a modified sleep schedule that will allow your child to transition back to waking up early without jarring his or her system. Adjust his or her bedtime, wake-up time, and screen time accordingly to start the year off right!

Start using checklists

Checklists can benefit you and your child by providing actionable, step-by-step tasks that will help with school prep and develop personal responsibility. Instead of creating checklists with new responsibilities, use what your child is already doing to create checklists that incorporate existing routines. For example, your child’s “Morning Checklist” might include brushing teeth, getting dressed, and eating breakfast. An “Afternoon Checklist” could include reading or educational activities, rest time, and lunch. And an “Evening Checklist” would help your child wind down by turning off all devices, brushing his or her teeth, and possibly talking about what’s on the schedule for the next day. Checklists are a valuable and proven part of successful special education classroom routines, helping children achieve academic and social/behavioral goals. Easing your child into using these visual supports will help them build task analysis and executive functioning skills by the time school starts.

Review their goals and growth areas

As the most important advocate for your child’s success, you can prepare yourself for the year ahead by revisiting IEP goals, past report cards, and progress reports. By doing so, you can ensure that your child is aware of what he or she will be working on throughout the year, and encourage him or her with early exposure to summer activities that will strengthen areas of need. Leisure reading, dedicated gaming time, and outdoor play may not seem like schoolwork for your child, but activities like these can reinforce literacy skills, improve coordination and cognition, and encourage social and behavioral growth while school is out.

Discuss expectations

Rules at home are usually different from rules at school. Discussing these potential differences with your child before school starts can help mitigate any sort of culture shock he or she might encounter as a new student or a student who’s forgotten what the school rules are after three months away. A great place to start is your school’s student handbook, where everything from dress code to disciplinary procedures will be outlined and explained. Because the past year has seen an unprecedented blurring of the lines between home and school, many students may be understandably unfamiliar with what’s expected of them once they return. Familiarize yourself with your school’s basic policies, then dedicate some time to sitting down with your child, reviewing them, and answering any questions he or she might have about the upcoming year. If you get stumped, you can always reach out for clarification.

Provide positive feedback.

Just like teachers do in class, providing positive feedback as your children ready themselves to return to school is an effective way to ensure they’re excited and prepared for the first day back. You can help shape your child’s independence by complimenting his or her adherence to schedules and checklists (See Tip #1), encouraging positive behaviors such as voluntary reading or asking questions, and praising proper social interactions with peers. Once school starts, your child will be expected to complete these tasks on a daily basis. Building a solid foundation of confidence and autonomy through positive reinforcement will help them hit the ground running, eager and ready to succeed.

open-quote I don’t think I will ever be able to put into words how grateful I am that you saw my daughter for all that she is today and all that she is yet to become. close-quote

Tammie Sommer

open-quote Julie Billiart Schools has helped my child become a better version of himself. The teachers and therapists at JB really know and understand how to reach children who learn differently. close-quote

JB Parent

open-quote All of the teachers and staff at JB are patient and willing to take the extra time to make sure we, as parents, understand and are comfortable. close-quote

JB Parent

open-quote Julie Billiart Schools gave us hope after our daughter was diagnosed with a learning disability. At JB, she thrived in the small classes, received necessary therapies, and developed the self-confidence to ask for help when she needed it. close-quote

JB Parent

open-quote They have all the resources necessary, specialized to the individual learning of each child, and the heart that goes with it. I don't think we would have stayed in Ohio if it wasn't for JB! close-quote

JB Parent

open-quote My kids love everything about JB and look forward to going to school every day and seeing their friends and teachers. JB is truly a one of a kind school enriching young lives everyday. close-quote

JB Parent

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