Graduation And Preparing For What Comes Next

Guest Authored By Marissa Blankenship, MSEd

As the spring draws to a close, many school-related milestones can be right around the corner for your child. Changes can be difficult for all children, especially those with diverse learning needs. If your child is graduating from preschool or kindergarten this year, you may have questions about the transition to a new school and how to prepare your child for the new setting. Below are some ideas to help smooth the transition so your little one feels ready to learn in the new school year!

  1. Contact the new school and connect with teachers and administrators.
    Communication is key for successful transitions for children with diverse learning needs. Talking with the teacher, principal, and other administrators a month prior to your child’s transition can help ease any tension you may be feeling and will help the school understand the routines and preferences of your child. By talking with the school, you can also gain an understanding of your child’s unique daily schedule as it relates to his/her IEP and the services provided.
  2. Write a social story about the upcoming transition.
    A social story is a story written from the child’s perspective. It details upcoming changes and differences and uses child-centered language to model appropriate interactions with the new environment. With the child as the main character of the story, she or he can gain insight and information in a way that is easy to access. At Blue Bird Day, our school transition social stories usually include pictures of staff at the new school in order to familiarize our clients with the new adults who will be with them in their environment.

    Social stories can also include lists of if/then statements to help the child have a framework for problem solving in their new environment. For example, a social story can include statements from the child’s perspective such as “If I have to go to the bathroom in my new school, I can tell the teacher and she will give me a hall pass.” Before writing the social story, brainstorm a list of potential questions your child may have before going to a new classroom. This can also be a great conversation to have with your child, as well!

  3. If possible, preview the new space.
    Context is a great teacher for children with diverse learning needs. While you’ve been preparing and communicating with your child about a big change in their life, it may help to contextualize it by showing your child the new space. Some schools may not assign classrooms to teachers until a few weeks before the school year starts, but a tour of the school itself — including key places like the cafeteria, the nurse’s office, etc. — may help your child feel more comfortable when the school year begins.

While changes can feel scary for little ones, they also mean big opportunities lie ahead. Graduation is a special time, and we hope that you enjoy it fully.