Regardless of whether your child takes medication only at home or takes medication in school, there are steps to take to protect their safety.
For Children Taking Medication Only at Home
If your child is changing schools this year, do you know for sure whether their medical records and notes you may have sent the school nurse about side effects or concerns have been forwarded to the new school? Although some school records do transfer, don’t assume that medication records transfer. Find out who in the district and/or building you should contact with information about your child’s current medications and then send in a note informing them what medication your child is on, what time they it is taken, and any side effects your child experiences.
Even if your child is not supposed to take medication in school, if you think you may occasionally forget to give your child their pre-school dose of medication, send in a supply in a labeled prescription bottle that has your child’s name on it with the name of the physician and dose. Include a prescription or letter from the physician that authorizes the school to administer the morning dose if you should call to say that your child missed the morning dose.
Some parents prefer not to tell the school about any medications the child takes only at home. That is an individual decision and I understand both sides of the issue, but let me remind parents that if anything ever happens at school and your child is transported to an Emergency Room or is unconscious and cannot communicate, someone in the school or district should know what medication(s) your child has ingested so that emergency medical personnel can be informed.
For Children Who Take Medication During the School Day
Contact the school nurse (or district nurse if there is no nurse in the building) to inquire what records the new building will have on your child’s medications. Find out who will be responsible for giving your child the medication, and then contact them to ask whether they call the classroom to send your child down if your child forgets to go to them. Be sure to send in the medication in a labeled pharmacy bottle with a prescription from the physician authorizing them to administer the medication.
Throughout the School Year
Keep the school apprised of changes in your child’s medication, even if it is taken only at home. If you do not want the teacher to know about a particular change because you want to see if they detect any change if they do not know there’s been a medication change, that’s fine, but be sure to let the school nurse know and just ask the nurse not to tell the teacher unless there appears to be a problem from the new medication.
If your child is changing schools, and especially if they are going into a new middle school or high school, they may be very anxious about not knowing their way around.
Although all kids have some level of anxiety about going to a new school — and you can remind your child that all kids are a bit nervous about the first week — kids with Executive Dysfunction really have more cause to be concerned, as their risk of getting lost navigating the new building and changing classes is higher than other kids’.
Here are some tips to help your child deal with the “What If I Get Lost or Am Late for Class” Anxiety Disorder:
Whether or not your child has had a growth spurt over the summer, chances are that they will need some new clothes for school. Many parents, wanting to help their child create a good first impression with the teacher and peers, carefully pick out a new outfit for the first day of school.
Sometimes what makes sense on paper backfires, though. If you have a child with sensory issues, chances are that their new clothes may feel horribly uncomfortable to them. Remember to wash new clothes sufficiently to soften them, or better yet, let your child wear clothes that are not brand new so that they have something familiar and comfortable for their first day of school.
Even if your child does not have sensory issues, make sure that they can handle and manage their clothes. That outfit may look so cute on your child when she tries it on in her bedroom, but can she get in and out of her clothes if she needs to go to the bathroom at school or if her school requires her to change for gym? Yes, we want to help our kids look “cool” and help them fit in with their peers, but do consider your child’s motor skills and whether she will be able to function independently in school.
The same applies to lunches. Many parents seem to pack lunches that their children cannot open independently. If your child cannot open the packaging of the lunch you planned without assistance, consider some alternatives such as re-packing the lunch for them in something they can manage. From a social perspective, they will feel better about themselves if they do not appear to need adults’ or others’ help just to eat their lunch. Do a test-run at home to ensure that your child can open their lunch or poke straws in juice boxes and adjust your lunch packing accordingly.
Remember to hide a note in their lunchbox for the first day. Something cheery like “I hope you’re having a great day and I can’t wait to hear all about it” or “I’m so proud of you and hope you’re having a great day!” can help anxious children feel a bit better on the first day. And of course, pack something they really enjoy and include something extra that they can offer to share with other children.
Many parents are probably already anticipating homework battles when school resumes, so this might be a good time to think about what routines and rules you will establish about homework.
Have you already considered where your child will do their homework so that they have a quiet area to work with help available and no distractions to interfere? If not, think about it before school resumes. Have you thought about what you will tell your child about taking breaks during homework? If not, talk with your child and come up with a plan for that. Having a routine, structure, and rules is key for many of our children, and as parents, you are the CEO of the Routine, Structure, and Rules Department.
If you are parenting a child with ADHD, you may be particularly interested in the results of a new study on improving homework completion in students with ADHD. The study confirms what many of us have been advising parents for years: support, structure, routine, and a simple re-arrangement of motivation can often promote dramatic results.
One of the great things about summer is that the kids can sleep late. For some of us, that means a break from the morning hassles that started so many of our days. But if you think that you can get your child back into an appropriate sleep cycle if you start the weekend before school re-opens, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn I’d love to sell you.
As soon as your child is back home from summer camp or wherever they’ve been off to, begin easing them back into a better sleep cycle for school. If your child hasn’t been away but has been in the habit of sleeping until oh, say, 10 am, 11 am, or the afternoon, you may have your work cut out for you. While some kids can readjust relatively quickly (within a week), for other kids, getting them back into the school routine takes much longer.
Start by doing the math to calculate the difference between their current wake-up time and the time they’ll need to wake up for school. If they currently wake up at 1 pm every day and you and your child figure out that they need to be up at 7 am so that they have time to dress, eat breakfast, brush their teeth and comb their hair and get to the bus or school on time, that’s a 6-hour difference to overcome. Some children may cooperate with getting back into the routine of getting up early, but if you are not one of the lucky parents, divide the difference you calculated by the number of days left until school starts. That’s how much you need to adjust the wake-up time by every day, beginning immediately, if you want to use a gradual approach instead of a “starting tomorrow, you get up at 7 am” approach.
1. The “standard” professional advice is to have a family meeting with your child to discuss what time they need to wake up for school and what time they will go to bed each night during the school week. Of course, many “standard” professionals have never tried to deal with our kids, many of whom have sleep issues galore. If your teen really gives you a rough time about going to bed earlier while it’s still vacation, you may want to go to Plan B: start by focusing on adjusting the wake-up time. For Plan B, you say to your child, “You can still go to sleep late if you want, but you need to be up at _______ one way or the other. If you get up on time, good things will happen. If you don’t get up on time, there will be consequences that you probably won’t like, including having to go to bed earlier.”