There is a new normal, a new way of living, whatever that means. Parents, teachers and children are all trying to figure out what this “new normal” means for them. As a result, all three groups will experience mixed, often complex, emotions.
Parents who had to homeschool their child may find that their anxieties about the academic progress of their children are lessened.
Children may be looking towards more routine and structure from the school environment.
Teachers, may be relief mingled with anxiety – one can only hold so many online lessons, but if you belong to a vulnerable group – is it safe to be out and about? How can you make your way through the maze of information available? How can you decide which sources to dismiss and which to explore further? Children and young people with additional needs can find change difficult, including starting or moving to a new school.
Here are some strategies that you could use to help your child/young person to prepare for the change.
In a pre-COVID-19 world, you would have been able to visit the new school with your child before they were due to start. You would have been able to meet teachers and take photos of any key people involved in their transition.
Now without the opportunity to visit the school/educational setting prior to September, make an “all about me” book for new staff. This will enable you to share information with staff at the new school about your child. Things like your child’s needs, likes, dislikes, capabilities, difficulties and what causes them anxiety. Effective communication between you, your child and the school and any support services, will make a positive difference. Mark the day of the change on a calendar and encourage your child to count down to that day.
Your child may be travelling to school. Making a social story or visual support to explain a bus journey to school would help them, Using pictures of the whole process, including them arriving at school would be a good way to ease any anxieties
*Social storiesTM – short descriptions of a particular situation, event or activity, which includes specific information about what to expect in that situation and why – could help your child know what to expect in the new school.
S/he will help you to prepare a transition plan, including targets and support strategies in an existing education health and care plan (EHCP).
If your child or young person is starting secondary school or changing school, any information about their educational needs gathered by your child’s primary or previous school should be passed on to the new school.
Keep in regular contact with staff working with your child to see how they are progressing.
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