If your child is going to school for the first time or starting a new school, there may be a great deal of anxiety about this new experience for your child and you. There are ways to ease this anxiety that you can use to ease your child and you into this new situation with more confidence and less anxiety.
First, locate the school and take your child to see it. If possible, try to make arrangements to go on a teacher work day and meet your child's new teacher with your child. Often teachers are quite anxious, too, about new students and may be very happy to have a personal visit to meet a new student and get to know a new parent.
Secondly, while visiting the school, take a short tour with a school staff or on your own with your child to locate the spaces your child may use, such as restrooms, the school cafeteria, the gym, and the auditorium. Also, if you did not get a chance to meet your child's teacher, visit your child's classroom so s/he can see it.
Also, walk around the school grounds to see if there are areas for exploration and play and talk with your child about the things that s/he may do outside during the school year. Look over playground equipment, if there is any available, to see how safe it is for your child to use and to see if adaptations have been made to accommodate his/her needs.
Finally, make sure you take a camera with you to take photos of your child with his/her new teacher, his/her classroom, all of the areas of the school s/he will use, the school principal and staff, the grounds, and the school building itself. These can be used to assist your child with getting familiar with his/her new school.
Leading up tot he first day of school, look over the photos daily and have your child point out various people and places by asking him/her to point to specific things. If your child has trouble with or is unable to point, assist him/her. Repeat this activity several times until your child's is familiar with all of photos or to relieve his/her anxiety.
You may also drive to the school several times to get your child used to going to the location. Try to find out the route used by your child's bus so that you can take your child to the school and find out how long it will take for him/her to get there. Don't forget to add stops for pick-ups and drop-offs of other children.
Driving the child's route will help your child understand how long it will take to get to school and home and provide visual cues to let him/her know when s/he is getting closer to each destination. For older children and children that function higher, you can assist your child to make a map of the route, as well.
If you decide to make a map, take photos of streets and street signs and landmarks going to school and coming home.. Use a large piece of paper and draw the streets along the route, then add photos of the street signs, and, finally, add landmarks along the way with a photo of your house on one end of the route and the school at the other.
Providing your child with locational information helps him/her understand where s/he is and where s/he is going. If your child has autism, this task may be easier; however, most children with special needs may need a great deal of support to understand how to relate photos to the actual locations.