Though it is a happy moment when special needs preschoolers move, stepping one step above the staircase of education. Yet it is overwhelming for the special needs students and parents as well. The questions come up in their mind like what will happen next, how they cope-up things will be, etc. For kids with disabilities and their families, the move from a small early childhood special education (ECSE) class to kindergarten demands a lot of adjustments to several changes, including a longer school day, a bigger class size, new classmates, and new teachers. That is also a concern to many parents, don’t worry we are providing some fruitful strategies to you that will lower the anxiety and let you prepare them for success instead.
Needs for transitioning smoothly from preschool to kindergarten for special needs children
For the teachers:
- Societal experiences can assist almost all children to understand what to expect in new settings. A social tale usually features the kid and incorporates images from their real lives, however, artwork can be useful as well. During the summer or a few weeks before school starts, you can collect images of their new school as well as any information you may have about their day (will they ride the bus? Do you know what their teacher’s name is, for example?). Of course, seeing images of their new instructors or therapists would be ideal, but this isn’t always attainable. You can create a brief, descriptive narrative stressing anything you believe your kid should be specially prepared for, including any emotions that may arise. An illustration of a potential
- This is an example of a kindergarten social story:
“I’m starting kindergarten. I’ll have a new teacher and meet new people. Mom will drive me to school and drop me off at the classroom entrance. I’ll put my backpack in my cubby and sit on the rug with my pals. My instructor will go through the classroom rules, and I will do my best to obey them. I might be a bit worried at first, but I’m sure I’ll have a great time at school!” The great thing about creating your social tale is that you can tailor it to incorporate any problems unique to your child for them to grasp them. If you don’t want to write your own, There are numerous stories and novels about the Kindergarten transition that will serve just as well! Here are some resources that may be useful:
Pinterest provides a plethora of printable social story prompts and printable social story ideas. Free tools for parents, such as social tales, may be available on ABA or special education websites. Scholastic provides a fantastic assortment of books to assist all youngsters to prepare for the transition to Kindergarten.
- An Integrated Classroom ICT (Integrated Co-Teaching) classroom contains two instructors, one who teaches general education and the other who teaches special education. In most classrooms, half of the students have an IEP, and half of the population does not (the balance may differ from school to school). If your primary school provides it, this is a fantastic alternative since all of the children in the class benefit from the extra help and diversity of ability.
- Although there are no requirements mandating schools to have a transitional individualized education program (IEP) conference when a kid leaves an ECSE program, setting a meeting can be beneficial for kindergarten staff and families. These sessions enable the ECSE and kindergarten special education professionals to work together to develop a transition plan and IEP that supports and meets the student’s needs. It may also be good to have a general education kindergarten teacher attend the meeting, depending on the scenario and the school’s design, to answer the family’s questions, discuss adjustments and changes, and establish a plan for inclusion.
- There should be storytime or snack time. This will also help staff to determine what additional assistance the student may require to succeed in their new environment (such as noise-canceling headphones in a large group setting or a designated spot to sit on the carpet). Observing the student in the existing ECSE classroom may also be beneficial to the kindergarten special education teacher and/or teaching assistants. The student’s communication, interaction with staff and peers, participation in group activities, and demonstration of self-help abilities will all be observed.
- A teacher-created book containing images of the student’s new special education teacher and teaching assistants, kindergarten teacher, classrooms, lunchroom, etc. is another transition tool that might aid youngsters. This book may be read with the youngsters by the entire family. This differs from a social tale in that it lacks sentiments, anticipated behaviors, and viewpoint taking.
- Many school districts offer a kindergarten orientation at the start of the school year, where kids and their families meet the teacher, drop off school supplies, and learn about the regulations, procedures, and expectations for kindergarten. Typically, a group of four to five students attends these orientations at a time. Individual orientation may be more suitable and/or less daunting for some students with impairments. The student’s family may also feel more at ease asking inquiries and giving pertinent information regarding the student’s condition.
- Try visiting both regular and special education kindergarten classrooms. a few things to consider when examining like: What pictures, language, and expectations can I use to help my kids adapt smoothly? What activities, resources, or expectations would need to be changed or customized for my kindergarten students? What self-help or functional skills do I need to concentrate on with my kindergarten children to help them gain independence and confidence?
For the parents:
- If your kid has an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) while in preschool or daycare, they will have an annual review meeting when they transition from Preschool Special Education to Special Education. All of their instructors and therapists will create reports detailing their progress toward their goals as well as any future recommendations. The district officials will decide what services are best for your kid in Kindergarten based on this information and your involvement. You are free to bring an advocate to this meeting if you believe it would be beneficial to you. These sessions might go rapidly, and administrators may talk in jargon or use phrases that parents are unfamiliar with, so don’t be alarmed. These are some of the words you could hear at these gatherings:
- All students, regardless of special needs, deserve to be in a classroom that meets their needs and grows on their abilities. If your kid can be placed in a “general” education classroom with assistance rather than a self-contained special education classroom, they are more likely to choose it. When a youngster is in the “least restrictive environment,” he or she has peers to learn from and urge them to step outside of their comfort zone.
Although the records are secret, there may be important information in them for educational planning. When preparing the IEP, you may wish to share some of that information with the team. Keeping a positive connection with team members and addressing team meetings and decisions collaboratively.