Education Update September 2019

11th September 2019


It’s September so it’s … Back to School

Is your child starting school for the first time? Or returning to school and joining a new class? Or joining a new education setting?

September is such a busy time for families because there’s so much to plan for when your child starts school. The tension mounts and some children can become very anxious at this time of year. Children with spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus may have difficulties with managing change and being in a school setting or just being in a different environment.

For those who don’t know me, my name is Jan Tippett and I am the Education Adviser at Shine. The aim of my blog every month is to provide updates in the education world that may affect your families, support you with tips and advice as well as link to resources that you may find useful. My blogs will be themed and obviously as it is September, starting school is my focus this month.

Children with spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus may have difficulties with managing change so here’s some links to advice on Shine’s website to help.

6 Top Tips for Getting Ready for School

Preparation – talk about and read about school with Shine’s Benny Bear book, ‘Benny Starts School’, or our Bella Bear book, ‘Now I am four’.

  • Be positive
  • Practise independence skills for school-readiness
  • Rewards and praise
  • Listen carefully to your child
  • Communicate with school staff

For more information about these top tips, go to Shine’s website section Getting Ready for School

Mainstream School Inclusion

All children want to be included in the life of their mainstream school so discussing disabilities is crucial for everyone to feel included. Schools promote the message to treat everyone with respect and that it’s great to be friends but not okay to leave out, tease or bully each other.

Some parents of children with hydrocephalus and/or spina bifida have found ways to encourage communication with new pupils in school and their families by creating a Book Bag note.

The support worker for Sheffield ASBAH, affiliated with Shine, wrote on the ShASBAH Facebook page in May this year:

“Met a lovely parent today who shared her approach to introducing her son to the class through a book bag note. It is so important to maintain an approachability when you have a child with a disability. Our kids just want to make friends like every other child. School parents, please do ask your questions! It is welcomed. Be polite with it. Don’t ask ‘what’s wrong with them?!’ This child has the power to enrich a life for the better. Parents of kids with differences want to share their stories. Let’s open up the conversation and remove the awkwardness."

Book bag note

If families have any other great ideas for making schools more welcoming and inclusive for children with disabilities, please let Shine know by calling 01733 555988 or emailing

Let’s support each other!

September Stress?

Creating Calm in the Classroom

Some children with disabilities may have had a traumatic summer where they have been in hospital for operations or procedures and are still recovering. When that is the case then teachers may want to change the usual task of ‘What did you do in the summer holidays?’ to other tasks in order to learn more about their new pupils.

Here’s some ideas to pass on to the teachers for questions to ask children at the start of the new school year so that it is inclusive and doesn’t leave any children feeling left out.

  • What do you enjoy learning about?
  • What are 3 great things about you?
  • What do you want your teacher and classmates to know about you?
  • What new thing would you like to learn about, to make or to try?
  • What do you look forward to during the school year?

 (Source: Wholehearted School Counselling advice)

Back to School Advice for Young Minds

Young Minds is a charity that supports children and young people with their social, emotional and mental health.

On the Young Minds website there’s a great Take 20 Parents Hub and Guide to conversation with your children.

Young Minds gives guidance to parents and carers so they can Take 20 minutes time every day to communicate and to listen to their child’s concerns. Children with neurological conditions may need longer to settle in at school and will take their time when telling you how they feel so a little patience is needed during their Take 20 minutes together.

Back to School Fun!

The Beano’s Back to School News is a fun resource for older children to make the return to school more enjoyable with films, toons and games about Beano town!

I hope everyone settles into school well this month, half term is only just around the corner!

Best wishes, Jan


Shine charity provides advice and support about starting school and any other questions about education. You can ask to be referred to Shine’s education officers by getting in touch with Shine on 01733 555988 or via




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