Ask the Expert – Off to a Great Start: Surviving the Transition into Kindergarten
Tips for families of children both with and without special needs:
Any transition that we make in our lives can lead to anxiety and uncertainty as to what to expect. You may experience a range of emotions when your young child makes their way through the “big” school doors for the first time. As you and your child prepare for that next phase, these are some tips that have helped families through the years to embrace the change a little bit more easily!
Visit the classroom/school with your child if possible before the first day of school. While you may not be able to get into his assigned classroom, you want to introduce him to the new environment. This would be a good time to begin talking to your child about his/her new school.
Write a brief narrative ( couple of paragraphs describing your child’s basic habits ie mealtime, rest, moods, likes/dislikes) for his receiving teacher to get to know him. They may not get any official paperwork like an IEP (Individualized Education Program) in their hands until weeks later.
Establish with the teacher how you will communicate with each other. Some families have used notebooks in the child’s backpack or emails. While you most likely won’t be communicating on a daily basis, it is good to inform the teacher when significant changes or events occur that may affect how well your child’s day goes. This is especially important if your child has health issues or multiple developmental needs. Make sure that he has any special equipment that he needs to be comfortable available for him/her (ie splints, wheelchair).
Talk positively about your child’s first day to him/her. Call his/her teachers by name and any new friends he/she may have met. Be prepared to talk to him about some of the routines he may have experienced while there.
Be prepared to leave your child each day, but be promptly reachable via phone, if needed. If your child rides the bus, these suggestions still apply!
Remember: It may be rough for both of you initially, but rest assured your child will begin to acclimate and develop a trust in the new teachers!
Serving both children with and without disabilities along with their families, Sandra Dudley has more than 30 years of experience in early childhood education.
She currently serves as Special Education Consultant within the ELP and Project Coordinator of Childcare Enhancement With a Purpose (a federally funded program that provides training to daycares on including children with special needs).
Her greatest passion is ensuring that families are empowered, connected and supported in the community in which they live.
Are you interested in learning more about our Hand In Hand Early Learning Program or our Childcare Enhancement with a Purpose program? Call 205-944-3939 today.