By now many of us have experienced a number of significant life transitions, whether it be starting school or secondary school, moving out of home, or starting your first job. These occasions are momentous, and we will often remember them for the rest of our lives. I love times of transition- the anticipation and excitement of change and all things new! But for many these times can be fuelled by anxiety and stress about the ‘unknown’.
There is a big life transition poking its head just around the corner for some of our families- starting school! It is one of the biggest transitions our kids face in their young lives. It is a giant leap towards developing independence, learning about the big wide world, and meeting new people that will influence the rest of our lives.
Given that it is such a significant transition, for both the child and caregivers alike, it is so important that we get it right! Your child’s start to Prep has the potential to influence and shape the rest of their school days…all 12 years of them!
For families with children with additional needs, this time can be especially stressful as there will be some extra considerations and planning that will need to take place to make the transition as successful as possible.
With the year already three quarters done (isn’t that scary!), now is the time to act and start preparing for your child’s transition to prep! Here is a checklist of things that you should start doing now if you haven’t started already.
- If you haven’t already chosen your child’s school yet, now is the time to lock this in! We would strongly encourage that you make a list of schools in your area that you’re interested in and arrange tours of each of them. This will help you get a feel for each school.
- Arm yourself with a list of questions before you visit the school, this way you won’t forget anything important! Be mindful that some schools offer group tours and others may offer individual tours. You may need to arrange an additional appointment with the school to further investigate your questions. It can be good to do a tour at a time when the kids are in normal classes rather than just the set tour times. Then you can see how the school really operates.
- Find out what each school can offer your child- do they have a welfare coordinator? What supports do they have in place for children with additional needs? Do they have experience with other children with additional needs? How do they support a teacher who has a special needs child in their class?
- Once you have chosen your school and completed your child’s enrolment, it will be important to establish whether or not the school intends to apply for funding for your child to have additional supports within the school environment. Remember, not all children with additional needs meet the criteria for funding at school. If your child’s school does plan to apply for funding, find out what they will need from you to make the application happen. Some schools may request a full Occupational Therapy assessment report. If this is the case, let your child’s OT know as soon as possible, rather than leaving it until the last moment.
- Get to know your child’s new school’s transition program. Liaise with your child’s care team to determine whether or not they may need an extended or altered transition program.
- If you think your child may benefit from a boost before starting school, enrol them in a ‘School Readiness Program’. There are a range of school readiness programs available through Peninsula Health, Early Intervention Services and also Private providers. We run our School Readiness Program over four days the week before school starts in January. Please register your interest in our program by chatting to your therapist or contacting our clinic now. Places are limited.