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School Bag Packing Checklist

Reduce your child’s anxiety and frustration over forgotten things with this  school bag packing checklist.

We created this printable checklist using some of the beautifully illustrated pictures featured in the TomTag My School Kit Sticker Pack.

Print and put it where your child will see it to help them remember what to take to school each day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Back-to-School Self-Talk Prompt Sheet

  • Back-to-School Toolkit

  • Feelings Bundle

  • I Can Do It Pack My Bag For School Kit

  • My School Kit Sticker Pack

  • School Bag Packing Checklist

 

 

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Transition to secondary school for autistic children – 10 tips for smoothing the move

mum hugging boy in school uniform on secondary school offer day

“I’m feeling worried about eating in the canteen.”

“I am concerned that the lessons are going to be a long time.”

“I worry about wearing my blazer all day.”

These were some of the worries my autistic son Tom had when he was moving from his beloved small and familiar mainstream primary school to a much larger secondary school.

The move from primary to secondary school is one of the major transitions in a child’s life. All children are likely to feel some level of worry about this move but for many children on the autistic spectrum, who crave stability and predictability like Tom does, this transition can be particularly difficult.

Secondary school transition issues

Like many children with autism, Tom has anxiety about the unknown and finds it difficult to think flexibly. He felt safe and secure with familiar routines established in primary school. Not being able to predict what might happen in his new secondary school and the thought of dealing with change and different rules was a real worry to him.

As a parent, my worries were mainly around his lack of social understanding, his communication difficulties, and his sensory challenges.

How would he:

  • cope with the many new social situations he would encounter in secondary school?
  • manage his feelings and emotions when things didn’t go as planned?
  • deal with the increased sensory demands of his new environment? 

Preparation is key

Every child with autism is different so a ‘one size fits all’ approach to transition is therefore not going to work. It’s vital that transition planning should be personalised to each child. By preparing your child as much as possible beforehand using some of the tips we’ve listed below, we hope you’ll be able to make those first days and weeks in the new school a lot less worrying for you and your child.

Extracts from Tom’s transition to secondary school booklet
Extracts from Tom’s secondary school transition booklet

Top 10 transition tips

Tip #1

Arrange for your child to visit their new school several times before they start and at different times of the day e.g. lunchtime, breaktime and during lessons. Tom made frequent, short visits which helped make his new school more familiar to him and took away some of the worry he felt about eating his lunch in the canteen.

Tip #2

Make a “My School transition booklet” which your child can keep and use as they need in order to reduce anxiety.

Tom’s booklet included a map of the layout of the school, photographs of key staff (particularly the teaching assistants that were going to support him) and photographs taken of him in the important places, like the school canteen, main hall, classrooms and a safe place for times of stress.

A photograph of Tom on the stairs in the school corridor with his written note of the correct corridor etiquette

A photograph of Tom on the stairs in the school corridor with his written note of the correct corridor etiquette – “walk on the left hand side so we don’t get squashed and we can let other people pass” was a simple inclusion in the booklet but meant that he knew what was expected of him when the corridors filled with students.

Tip #3

Establish a link with a member of staff who can act as a mentor and home-school liaison. Set up a home-school book to pass on information about any worries/concerns or any relevant developments at home.

Tip #4

Create a personal profile written with the help of your child to include all the information new staff should know about them. Tom’s profile mentioned his need to have frequent movement breaks and his worry about the long lessons.

Tip #5

Get used to a homework routine in advance of the new school start. Start simply with a 10-15-minute task at a regular time each evening in a quiet environment.

Tip #6

Make a visual timetable showing the school day to make lesson order & break times more predictable. The TomTag School Timetable kit is ideal for creating portable and personalised timetables for your child without the hassle of printing, laminating or Velcro!

Tip #7

Practice the journey to and from school, making sure your child knows the location of bus stops, road-crossings, meeting points or anything else significant on their journey.

Tip #8

Familiarise your child with their new school uniform and deal with any irritating seams or labels. Tom practised wearing his blazer at home so that he got used to how it felt and was also told he could take it off during lessons.

Tip #9

Practice packing the correct items for school. The TomTag school bag packing checklist would be perfect for this!

Ask your child’s current primary school to work on preparing your child for the transition by including activities around organising and managing their own items at school.

Tip #10

TomTag feelings notebook with example page filled inSet aside time to discuss your child’s worries and concerns about the transition. Encourage them to write down or draw about any concerns they have about moving to their new school. Remind them of relaxation and self-help techniques they could use if they are anxious. The TomTag Feelings Notebook is a helpful place to record worries and concerns. 

Transition to secondary school resources

The Autism Education Trust also has some useful resources for parents dealing with transitions. 

  • Back-to-School Toolkit

  • I Can Do It Pack My Bag For School Kit

  • I Know What To Expect At School Kit

  • cover image product feelings notebook

    My TomTag Feelings Notebook

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Back to School – an essential A to Z

Whether it’s your child’s very first day at school or they’re just starting a new school year, here’s our A-Z guide to help ease you gently back into the school routine.

  • A   is for ALARM CLOCK

Choosing a fun model and showing kids how to operate it is a great way to teach them good time-keeping.

  • B   is for BUSES

Have you got an up-to-date timetable and a vaild child’s bus pass? Does your child know where they are going to be dropped off and picked up? Have a trial run so it’s not left to the first morning!

  • C   is for CALENDAR

Think beyond the first week of school and put important dates such as parents evenings, inset days and holidays in your calendar now.

  • D   is for DROP ZONE

Set aside a designated place where the kids can leave their bags, coats and school books so it doesn’t all end up in a heap by the end of the first week.

  • E   is for EMPTY BAG

Make a clean start with an empty bag and clear out anything still lurking in there from last term.

  • F   is for FIND A PARENT

Have you got contact details of another parent at your child’s school who you can ask about school events if letters /permission slips don’t make it home?

  • G   is for GYM KIT

Have you got the right stuff for P.E. and perhaps a seperate bag to put it all in?

  • H   is for HAIRCUT

If you still have time before the first day of school, make sure they get a good cut so you don’t need to drag tired kids out after school or at the weekend to get it done.

  • I   is for INFORMATION

If your kids are starting new schools, it’s time to dig out any information books you have received from the school and make sure you’re familiar with their routine and policies.

  • J   is for JOIN

Get involved with the school community and join the PTA or check out after school activities the kids may want to join.

  • K   is for KEY

If your kids are older do they have a spare key? Get one now rather than wait until first morning back!

  • L   is for LABEL EVERYTHING!

We can’t shout this one loud enough!! Iron, sew, stamp or write your kids’ name on all clothing, shoes & personal items otherwise your jumper will look like all the rest in the lost property mountain!

  • M   is for MEDICAL FORMS

Make sure the school has up to date medical information for each child with details of allergies and emergency contact numbers.

  • N   is for NOTES

Remind your child to bring ALL notes home from school and check their bag each night for anything lurking in the bottom!

  • O   is for OUTDOOR COAT

Have you bought one yet? It won’t be long before those cold days and dark nights start creeping in!

  • P   is for PLANNER

If your school doesn’t provide one, look for a suitable notebook or diary to use as a homework planner, an essential for those kids starting high school.

  • Q   is for QUALITY TIME

Don’t forget that school can be stressful and tiring and that kids need to spend time away from homework, TV and other electronic distractions. Try and set aside some time to chat with them each day so you can pick up on any worries they may have.

  • R   is for RECYCLE

Donate old school uniform to charity or for good quality articles check whether the school PTA runs a second hand uniform sale.

  • S   is for STATIONERY

Check with the school what items your kids need to bring and make a regular check to see if anything needs replacing.

  • T   is for TOMTAG

The essential tool to help kids pack their bag to school!

  • U   is for UNIFORM

Making sure you start the year fully equipped will avoid any panics later and help children to feel more confident.

  • V   is for VISION

Find our if your school offers vision screening and if not, remember to get your kids’ eyes checked regularly as it’s important to pick up any problems as early as possible.

  • W   is for WEBSITE

Check your school’s site regularly for useful dates, school policies and curriculum guides.

  • X   is for EXTRA-CURRICULA ACTIVITIES

Let kids choose what they want to participate in rather than what you want them to. You never know what hidden talents you might uncover!

  • Y   is for YEAR GUIDES

Remember to check your school website or ask at school for details of what your kids will be studying this academic year so you can stay ahead of the game.

  • Z   is for ZZZZZZZ

As the nights draw in, get into a sleep routine for school. Just don’t forget to set the alarm clock!

 

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ORganised KIDs – top tips for back to school

New uniform to buy, school shoes to get fitted, pencilcases galore in every shop – it’s that time of year again when our thoughts must inevitably turn to planning for the new school year.

Last summer our own back to school preparations took on a whole new dimension. My autistic son Tomas faced the daunting transition from his much-loved mainstream primary school to our local secondary. Clearly there would be many challenges to face and one big worry was how Tomas would manage the extra organisational demands of dealing with lots of different subjects.

Organised paperwork

folders for organising school papeworkTomas was going to need a system to help him keep his paperwork organised and in one place if he was to stand any chance of keeping on top of things. We started with eight A4 ring-binders in different colours and labelled each one with a subject. We labelled the pockets of a plastic concertina file with the same subjects and labelled one extra section ‘letters’ to be used for permission slips, newsletters, etc.

I explained to Tomas that he must take the concertina file to school each day and bring it home again every night. Any notes, homework or handouts he was given had to be filed in it immediately after each lesson to prevent them from getting lost in his school bag or left at school! I then showed him how to empty the file each night. We talked through how we made the judgement about what should happen to each piece of paper. It if was needed for lessons the next day it could remain in the file, any homework sheets should be completed and returned to the file and some papers would need filing in the ring-binders for later reference and revision purposes.

Independence

The aim eventually was to have Tomas apply the strategy independently. Direct explicit instructions and plenty of practice are often all that is required to help children learn basic oTomas filing paperwork in a concertina filerganisational or other skills. This approach can be particularly beneficial for a child with organisational difficulties although it is appropriate and useful for most children.

One year on and I am delighted to report that the system seems to be working!  With lots of practice and the support of his teachers, Tomas can now collect, sort and file all his own paperwork from school. Now I just need to apply the same rigour to my own filing system!