It may be hard for you to think of your 3-year-old child leaving home to go to Early Childhood Special Education(ECSE). This may be a good time to reach out to your support network and friends. Talking to someone who has gone through the same process can help you learn ways to help yourself and your child through this transition. Sometimes it helps just to talk about it with a good listener.
Also see Tips for Planning Smooth Transitions.
If your child has never been in group classes (such as a music class), play groups, or individual therapy, it may be hard on both of you the first time you have to drop your child off at school. Here are some steps you can take to make the transition just a little easier:
- Take photos of the school your child will attend, including the playground, the secretary, his teacher, the principal, and the cafeteria. Look at them with your child as you talk about school and the things he will see and do there. This will help him become familiar with what will happen on the first day.
- Play “going to school” at home. Try sitting in a chair with your child in front of you (rather than on your lap or next to you) and reading a book or singing some songs.
- Go to your new school’s playground so your child can play on the equipment.
- Go shopping with your child to pick out a backpack and lunch box.
- Practice making choices. This can be as simple as offering your child two different color cups or two different snacks and letting him choose which one he wants.
There are lots of great ideas to help you and your child get ready for school. If you are interested in learning more, check out some of the links listed below. You can also watch a video of a parent sharing her story of when her child started school. When children experience smooth transitions they do better in their new setting.
The CONNECT Project at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute offers a web-based training course that uses videos to help families learn about the transition from early intervention services to a preschool program for children with disabilities. The following videos are about these early transitions:
Getting to Know Your Child (PDF) is a downloadable form you might find helpful for letting a new teacher know about your child.
Check out 13 Tips for Starting Preschool from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).