by Shannon Carollo
Do you remember your first experience with a school locker? It’s often equal parts exciting, surprisingly convenient, and anxiety-producing.
Locker use is exciting because it’s a rite of passage leaving one feeling like a mature student—and how wonderful that, unlike driving, it is an accessible rite of passage for our children who are blind or visually impaired. It’s convenient because there’s a little home base; it’s certainly a relief to have storage for books and tools. But lockers can also be anxiety-producing because important papers seem to get lost in a sea of locker disorganization; and who can forget learning to use the dreaded combination lock?!
Is your tween or teen finding the latter to be true? How can you help her solve this dilemma?
Ask your tween or teen to identify specific locker issues and frustrations.
Some locker frustrations may be accessibility-related.
- Is it difficult to locate the locker? Brainstorm solutions, and don’t hesitate to encourage your child to ask the Orientation and Mobility Specialist or Teacher for Students with Visual Impairments for ideas. A few mobility lessons may be helpful as well as a visual or tactile clue on the exterior.
- Is unlocking stressful? Consider using a different lock. Instead of a combination lock, you may find a key lock or other non-traditional lock more easily accessible. A school Occupational Therapist may have non-standard lock suggestions.
- For those with usable vision, is the interior of the locker too dark? Would a battery-powered, magnetic light be useful? Would two?
- Is it difficult to retrieve each specific book or notebook? Make sure the spine of each book and binder is labeled; your child may also find organizing the books by class period helpful.
Speaking of organizing…
Some locker frustrations may be relieved with improved organization.
- Is the locker cluttered with paper and trash? Would it be useful to have a designated trash bag that can be emptied each day or week?
- Are technology and ocular devices difficult to find or getting damaged in the locker? Could additional shelves be installed, giving each device a proper, permanent home when not in use?
- Is the locker in disarray? Together, research and explore organizational tools on the market; encourage your child to identify tools they’d find beneficial and to take the time to organize the space in a way that works for her. Your child may find magnetic pencil holders the best storage for 20/20 pens and the like; a shelf with a tray holding small supplies may be necessary; a magnetic clip may be a useful tool for hanging an extra face mask, etc.
Another issue may be inadequate storage space. Your child likely has more devices and larger books than peers; they may need to advocate for two adjacent lockers or additional storage space.
Whatever the locker issues maybe, your child should take the lead in identifying and resolving them. Practice problem solving is certainly important preparation for a bright future.