Transitioning to new schools has become somewhat of a habit for us due to my many moves to new schools. First, I got moved because of a new for me in other places as a Special Education Teacher. Then, I decided to go to another school district and we’ve moved again. He’s gone to three different schools already in his young life, and now we’ve moving to a fourth school and he’s only in the 3rd grade. Even though he has autism, he’s adjusted quite well to the changes, showing excitement every time we move. I believe strongly that the way in which we transition has really influenced his ability to adjust to a new school. So how do we make the adjustment period go well?
- Registration. When we register for a new school, I always take him with me. Usually, we get to meet the office staff and sometimes some of the administration during that time, which helps him see them as friendly faces.
- Visit Often. When we finish the registration process, I always ask if we can take a tour of school, and then if we can make visits during the summer so that he gets used to the layout. Seeing the new school without other students there prevents overstimulation. On top of that, people get to know us early on and see him at his best. Definitely a win for us!
- Attend Special Before-School-Starts Events. One of the biggest benefits we’ve had this summer has been the school’s free lunch program during the summer. They opened it for all kids ages 1-18, and the receptionist recommended we come on in as a way to get him feeling safe in the cafeteria. Already, he knows which way to go in for lunch, which way to exit, and where to find the restrooms. The librarian also opened the school up on Wednesdays to check out books and he’s met his librarian. Plus side to that? She knows which books to recommend for him before school even starts! We found a ton and have already started reading.
- Meet the Teachers. For us, this process is two-fold. We need to meet his regular 3rd grade teacher and his Exceptional Children’s (EC) Teacher. Though we’ve not yet had the privilege of meeting his teachers, I know from previous experiences that he gets so much more excited about school once he knows his teachers.
- Visit the Classroom. Part of meeting with his teachers usually means we get to see the classroom he’ll spend most of his time in. If the teacher has already planned out the seating, he will also get to claim his seat. On the first day of school, he’ll know exactly where to go!
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We spend a lot of time planning for his school year before it begins. We also read, do math, and write during the summer so that he doesn’t lose skills or feel overwhelmed by school work on the first day of school. Or, we at least minimize this feeling for him. I thank all of the schools who have worked with us so far for meeting our son’s needs and doing these things for us prior to him seeing a whole bunch of students. I feel so lucky that he’s made good transitions every single time!
What do you do to aid your child adjust to a new school?