Friday, 30 May 2014

Top Transition Tips for Your School-aged Child

By Shana Soucy, NBACL Manager of Inclusive Education

The end of the school year is approaching quickly and many parents are starting to wonder “Will my child be ready for the new school year in September?” “What if the new teacher does not know what to do when his routine is broken...”, and, “Is the new school going to be as supportive?” 

June is an important month for parents and school personnel to focus on Transition.  Here are some tips to ensure your child has a successful transition to a new grade/teacher or a new school.

Steps toward a good transition:
  1. Find out if there is a transition model in place at the school, if not;
  2. Form a comprehensive transition team (with the help of the school).
  3. Meet with the team (most parents have transition meetings in the beginning and end of the school year).
  4. Plan for the evaluation of the transition goals and strategies (If the strategies do not work for the student, it’s important that there are follow-up meetings to ensure that the student’s transition is as smooth as possible.  Brainstorming new ideas and strategies can be done during these collaborative meetings.).
It’s very important to have a clear agenda of what will be covered during the transition meeting.  For example, if your child has difficulty with routine changes, the meeting should cover different strategies that will be used when his daily routine will be different.  Items that could be covered during a transition meeting could be:

·        Special Education Plan (SEP): What was done this year and what will happen next year;
·        Student’s strengths;
·        Student’s needs (academic, emotional, behavioural, medical, etc.); and
·        Strategies that can help the students with daily challenges.  Some examples include: visual schedules to prepare the student for changes in his or her schedule, to using social stories.

Involve your child.  He/she might not be at the transition meeting but if possible, they can have their say in what they think would help make the transition less stressful.  Bring these ideas to the table at the transition meeting.  Remember, planning for an individual can only be successful if they are on board with it!

If your child is transitioning from elementary to middle school, from middle to high school, or is moving to a different school, you may want to contact the school and schedule a time for the student to visit his/her new school and classroom.  This may lower his/her stress levels by knowing exactly what the school looks like, where his/her classroom, cafeteria and bathrooms are located. 

If the student is anxious about transitions, it could be beneficial for him/her to meet with school personnel with whom he or she will be working with daily (ex: classroom teacher, resource teacher, educational assistant, etc.) the week before classes are in session.  Showing the student where the lockers are located and simple things like where he might sit in the classroom could make a big difference and ensure they have a successful start to a new school year.

Finally, for young children transitioning from an Early Learning Childcare Centre or home environment into kindergarten, it’s important for the parents to arrange a tour of the school with their child.  Some schools are very accommodating and will let the child spend an hour or part of the day in the classroom so that he/she can familiarize him/herself the school and learning environment. 

Parents should inform the school that his/her child has a disability and should ask that a transition meeting be organized to discuss the child’s strengths and needs.  It is usually during this meeting that the parents and school would organize a tour of the school.

Transitions can be difficult for many students, but planning and preparing your child can help them adjust to their new environment and help make their experience more positive. 

Collaborate with the school, attend transition meetings and be sure to involve your child. 
With good planning, you and your child’s educational team can collaborate to create effective ideas and strategies to ensure that everyone is prepared and feels ready to start a new school year!

For more information about successful transition for your child, or about Inclusive Education, contact Shana Soucy at: 1-506-453-4400, toll free (within Canada) at 1-866-622-2548 or email

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