Our kids changed schools this year. We didn’t decide on this move until a week before school started! Needless to say, we weren’t very prepared. However, it was in the same district, and the staffs at both schools were amazing.
We are now in the process of planning for the big transition from elementary school to middle school. It is scary. But I am confident that we can make an easy move.
Here are some things we have done in the past and things we are doing now to make it easier:
- It is stated in the IEP that the new staff and teachers will have training at the beginning of every school year. This includes learning about his disability. It also includes training on the school evacuation process and on transfers from his wheelchair. My husband and I will attend this meeting so that we can answer any questions. Our son comes with a lot of stuff. We want to make sure everyone feels a little more comfortable before the new school year starts.
- I have a Vision Statement prepared. I read this statement during the meeting. I also read our vision at every Admissions, Review, Dismissal (ARD) meeting. This helps everyone know that we are planning for our son’s life, not just the current and upcoming school year.
- We made an appointment with the counselor at the middle school. We set up a time to tour the school and see some of the classrooms. Our son came with us so the current students, teachers, and principal could see him. And most importantly, he could see his new school. Knowing what our options were made it easier to plan.
- We scheduled an ARD meeting towards the end of the school year. Staff from the middle school was invited. This allowed for better communication. It allowed everyone to make the best decisions, together.
- Our son also attends his ARD meetings. These meetings are about him, so we think it is important for him to be there. Even if he doesn’t say anything, he can still hear what is going on. It also helps remind everyone at the table that we are talking about a real kid. Not just someone on a piece of paper.
- One thing I always say I’m going to do is prepare a notebook of pictures of our son and his family and friends. A book just about him that teachers can look through and read. They can learn a little bit about his likes and dislikes before the first day of school.
Planning together to make transitions easier takes a lot of time and effort. But the extra time makes a huge difference for everyone. I hope some of these ideas help you during your transitions.
Here is more information on transition planning for young people with disabilities.