A Simplified Back-to-School Plan Is Key to a Good Year

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by Sabrina Johnson |

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school \ Angelman Syndrome News \ Juliana sorts colors in school.

Sabrina L. Johnson

Juliana sorts colors in a workbox. Getting her focused is always the goal for a smooth back-to-school transition.

There’s a lot to do when it’s time to send the kids back to school. Like many moms, I work from a to-do list that helps me prioritize. As the years have rolled by for my 11-year-old Angel, Juliana, I’ve simplified my plans by changing one thing.

A slow and steady transition

Instead of a deep dive to prepare for back-to-school, I ease into the school year. Over the years, I have realized that I don’t have to have each task done the moment that Juliana and my 10-year-old daughter, Jessa, walk into school.

school \ Angelman Syndrome News \ Juliana and her dad head to school.

Juliana and her dad on the first day of school this year. (Photo by Sabrina L. Johnson)

Much of the prep work begins at the end of the previous school year. I clean both girls’ backpacks and put them away. The backpacks are always stuffed with all the books and other things that were used during the year. This includes Juliana’s extra clothes and medicine. With this simple action, the backpacks are ready for the next school year. If the girls attend camp, we have different backpacks specifically for that.

During the summer, I check the fit of school shoes, and sometimes I buy a size larger so they will be the perfect size when school starts. One of our best back-to-school efforts was the year I received the supply list early and got everything well before summer was over.

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Do this, not that

Getting Juliana off to school each day feels like a mini boot camp exercise. I use a tattered old checklist of things that go along to school, including essential paperwork, such as a seizure action plan and the teacher’s get-to-know-the-student form.

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A file for each school year makes it easier to keep up with the paperwork. (Photo by Sabrina L. Johnson)

I do a “slow drip” when I return them. For example, the medical forms are a priority, while the others can be sent over the following week. My goal usually is about one new form a day until they are all returned. I always include a note stating when I will return an item.

Getting kids back to school is a monster of a task. Getting a daughter with Angelman syndrome back into her routine takes even more planning.

Beginning with the end in mind

Although we have been at the same school for six years, we still attend school meet and greets, where I’ll alert the staff to any changes from the previous year. I’ll also tell them about positive things, such as Juliana getting a new talker over the summer. The other advantage of attending meet and greets is that it’s an opportunity to haul in her extra clothes and other supplies. It saves time and means Juliana won’t be loaded up with extra items on her first day.

Discovering a smarter way to transition back to school has been a game changer for me. While the beginning of the year is still a flurry of activity, easing in gives me more energy for the bigger things. After all, the bigger things —  getting Juliana comfortable with her school routine and settling her in for a great school year — are the most important ones.

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Note: Angelman Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Angelman Syndrome News, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Angelman syndrome.

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