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10 Tips for Changing Schools With A Special Needs Child

Transitions can be difficult for everyone. Transitioning to a new school can be especially anxiety-provoking for a child with special needs. We’ve gathered ten tips from expert sources such as the National Parent Teacher Association to help you think through and prepare for a smooth and healthy education transition with your special needs child.

  1. Visit the school site with your child. Point out bathrooms, the cafeteria, office, playground, etc. Consider printed maps with time schedules for older children. Talk to your child about exciting new classes, activities and events he or she can participate in.

  2. Help your child connect with schoolmates. Ask if your child’s school has a buddy system or if students in school leadership are available to help as mentors or guides.

  3. Review Individual Education Program (IEP) goals. Ensure the goals are still relevant and note the date of the annual review. Remember, you can request an IEP review anytime. And be sure to discuss assessment accommodations for your child.

  4. Connect with teachers. Write a brief introduction about your child (including a photo) with his or her likes and dislikes, social/emotional set-offs, motivators, methods of communication, pertinent medical information and any other important information. The more proactive and honest you are, the better teachers and school staff will be able to meet your child’s needs.

  5. Help plan an ability-awareness training. If your child is in a general education class, consider helping to plan an ability-awareness training with the class. Make sure to get buy-in from your child first. Write a story for the other kids so they can understand what makes him or her unique, and things that may be difficult for your child.

  6. Keep paperwork organized. Create a family calendar of school events, special education meetings, conferences, etc.

  7. Continue learning. Stay up-to-date on special education news and legislation, so you can advocate for your child, and all children.

  8. Create a communication log. This will help ensure that you and the school staff are on the same page. Be sure to note the dates, times and nature of the communications you have.

  9. Attend school events when possible. School events such as back-to-school night and parent-teacher conferences offer a great opportunity to meet staff and other students and families.

  10. Offer to help, either in the classroom or at PTA-sponsored events

Remember that communication is key through the entire process. “The more information you can give a child,” Child Mind Institute says, “the more in control he or she will feel of the situation. Letting them get comfortable and helping them to imagine variations, and what to do if something doesn’t go as planned, is important.”

There’s a lot you can do to work with your child to prepare them for a transition or to keep them emotionally healthy during the school year. Unfortunately, that doesn’t rule out the possibility that your family will encounter legal hurdles as you seek what’s best for your child. Finding the right special needs education solution can be tricky, especially when you face opposition from the school system. If you need support in defending your child’s legal rights in New Jersey, special needs law attorney and advocate Law Office of Stuart M. Nachbar is here for you! Give us a call or contact us online today!

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