Transitions occur at various times during their education. Transitions occur when students:
- enter the school system
- move between activities and settings
- move from grade to grade
- move from Early Years (Kindergarten to Grade 4) to Middle Years (Grade 5 to Grade 8)
- move from Middle Years to high school or Senior Years (Senior 1 to Senior 4)
- prepare for adult life
Starting school, changing grades, changing schools, and moving to a new setting after completing school are common transitions for everyone. Getting used to a new classroom or school, new classmates, a new teacher, a new bus, or a different educational assistant can be difficult for many students.
Children and youth with special needs frequently experience difficulty in making transitions. The new situations they face because of life changes such as entering or leaving school require planning. When teams are meeting it is important that they discuss and plan for any issue related to students’ current or upcoming transitions.
Early Childhood Transition to School
Entering the school system is an important event in a young child’s life. Much of a child’s future success in school depends upon his or her transition into school and upon having successful experiences in the early grades. For many children with special needs it is necessary to consider programming requirements and physical modifications to the school and/or classroom (e.g., ramps, special equipment) before they begin school.
To help parents and schools in planning for children’s transition to school, Healthy Child Manitoba has prepared Guidelines for Early Childhood Transition to School for Children with Special Needs. This protocol promotes information sharing and collaborative planning between community-based agencies working with preschool children with special needs and the school system (one year) prior to the children’s enrollment in school.
Many schools/divisions meet regularly with agencies providing services for children with special needs to discuss school transition planning. In addition, many use transition-planning processes to help make the beginning of school successful for students. If your child is starting school, there are some important things for you to know and do. The following checklist may help you in planning for this important transition in your child’s life.
When planning for your child’s entry to school, ask yourself some questions.
- What is your vision for your child’s educational experience?
- Is there information about your child that would be helpful for the school to know?
- Does your child have specific programming needs?
- Are there placement choices that you want for your child?
- Taking into consideration your child’s needs, explore local resource and practices.
- What services are available in your school division? In your neighbourhood school?
- What are your school/division policies on inclusion, placement, transportation, programming, student
- services, or special education?
Inform the School
At least a year before your child starts school, contact your child’s local school to let staff know when your child will be coming. Ask to have a meeting to begin planning.
If you are not sure about where your child should attend school, contact your school division.
If your child is currently receiving services from a preschool program or service, ask that a meeting to support your child’s entry to school be organized between the preschool agency and the school.
Once your child is registered in school, arrange a meeting with the classroom teacher, resource teacher, and relevant preschool service providers to discuss your child’s educational programming. If there are specific plans for programming, equipment, or services, ask for a written plan that outlines what will be done, by whom, and when.
You may wish to include preschool service providers in discussion with school staff to identify the supports and services most beneficial to enhancing your child’s strengths and addressing your child’s needs.
Discuss the programming or training needs of the school staff who will work with your child. Ask what supports will be available to the school. Provide the school with copies of reports that may assist them in making programming decisions for your child.
Let the teacher know that you want to participate in the planning meetings. Discuss how that will work.