3 Ways To Prepare Your Child While Transitioning To A New School

Starting at a new school can be stressful for any child, but when they have autism and/or intellectual disabilities and are joining special needs programs – adapting to an unfamiliar situation is likely to be particularly challenging. This is why it is so important to try and take steps to alleviate the possible stress and make the process as easy as possible.

Transitioning to a school with learning disabilities programs

Most children undergo school transfers at some point, even if it is just the move from elementary to secondary. This kind of transfer can be planned for well in advance. Sometimes, it is because of a home move, causing even more uncertainty. In the case of some children with learning difficulties, it may be an attempt to find them more appropriate special needs programs. Whatever the reason, it means leaving behind friends and familiar environments for something unknown, a process that can cause particular anxiety in children with autism or intellectual disabilities.

1. Start preparing them as early as possible

The earlier you tell the child that they are going to be transitioning to a new school, the more time they have to adjust to the idea. There will be time for any meltdowns and distress, but also for recovery. You will have the opportunity to identify what aspects of the move they find particularly stressful and can start taking steps to mitigate them. Start setting realistic expectations, but also encourage them to imagine the parts of the school they will enjoy, such as playground facilities. Repeat the information regularly to ensure they have the opportunity to absorb it. Good communication is essential.

2. Visit the school in advance

A visit before the first day at school is an excellent way to start familiarizing the child with their new environment without quite as much pressure. It separates the demanding task of adapting to the new school from the equally demanding task of attending lessons as normal. Perhaps you will visit their classroom when it is empty, without the noise and bustle of dozens of students, or walk with them through the hallways so they know where everything they needcan be found. There will also be an opportunity to talk to the teachers and future classmates so they can begin to build relationships, again separate from the usual classroom stresses.

3. Get everyone involved

Parents, other family members, friends, teachers, therapists and support workers can all help. A child with special educational needs will often have a wide network of people around them who can all offer reassurance and help ease a stressful transition. This means everyone needs to be communicating clearly and have an understanding of the child’s specific needs. Ensure everyone is on the same page regarding the plan to help the child.

These are just a few of the ways you may want to ease a child’s transition into a new school with learning disabilities programs. Patience and communication remain vital as you try to plan ahead, keep the child informed and work with other adults to provide the most comprehensive support possible. It is likely to be an anxious time, but it does not have to be overwhelmingly so.

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