New year, new routine! With all the things a child has to do in their daily routine, it is important to find ways to simplify tasks and make them beneficial for not only your child but for yourself. The following are just a handful of ways to get your family (especially if you have a child with special needs) organized in the new year.
1. Organizing your child’s school supplies
For any child, keeping track of all their school supplies is a challenge; children with special needs can have an even harder time without some kind of system in place. To help keep the backpack and cubby organized, here are a couple quick suggestions:
Write in an agenda: Most schools give each student an agenda to keep track of their homework assignments and schedule. The only down side is sometimes the designs can be cluttered and distracting. To combat this problem, try giving them a simple agenda sheet of paper that your child can understand and attach it to the provided agenda. Also, make sure there is a space for parent and teacher signatures.
Color Code at Home: When school supply lists come out at the end of the summer, teachers usually say what items should be in what colors. Take this a step further and have a station for your child to do homework at home, using the same colors to code for your child’s classes. For example: Color code a set of plastic drawers for homework and projects your child brings home.
2. Organizing the morning routine
This can be a challenge for both parents and children. However, establishing a routine that gets everyone up and moving can go a long way. Here are a couple tips that will work especially well for sensory seeking, sensory deprived or sensory sensitive kids:
Stretch: Start with stretching arms, legs and everything in between before even getting out of bed. Holding stretches for about 10 seconds and doing them a couple times will warm up your child’s muscles and wake them up.
Fuel Up: As always, breakfast IS the most important meal of the day. Make sure your child gets a balanced breakfast to kick start their day. This will also get the sensory filter that is their mouth going with a good workout (chewing and biting).
3. Getting organized while you’re waiting
For at least an hour a week, parents sit in the waiting room at the physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, etc. waiting for their child. Why not use that time to your advantage? Here are just a few suggestions of how to feel productive in the waiting room:
Make Lists: It comes in handy to have a small notebook in your bag for last minute To Do List items that you think of on the go. Or if you’re going to the grocery store after the session, make a list of what you know you can’t forget to pick up.
Talk to other parents: You’re all there for the same reason, why not become small support groups for one another? It can be very helpful to have other people to talk to about raising a child with special needs.
Plan Menus/Activities: Use that extra time to figure out meals for the week (then add what you need to your grocery list you just made) and think of fun at-home activities to keep the kids entertained and stimulated.
4. Organizing chores for your children:
Learning vocational skills is important for anyone at any age. For children with special needs, it is especially important since it may not come so easily or as quickly. Chores also give children a sense of responsibility and routine. Here are a couple key ones to consider working into your child’s routine:
Laundry: For children with developmental difficulties, laundry can provide opportunities to develop speech/language and teach goals. This will also teach your child how to categorize (separating lights from darks), follow directions, and sequencing (how long a load takes and understanding the steps in the process).
Setting the Table: This will also help with following directions and sequencing, while also developing problem-solving skills (what utensils will you need?).
Cleaning Their Room: A child’s bedroom is supposed to be their sanctuary that is all theirs. By teaching your child how to keep their room clean, it establishes a sense of pride in their work allows them to create their own system of organization and, in cases where clutter causes stress, teaches how to reduce that type of stress easily.