How I Prepared My Daughter for a Change In the Classroom

Article summary:
— Transitions are hard, but inevitable
— Talk about the old
— Talk about the new
— Photography can be powerful
— Do an activity around the theme of the transition

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Transitioning to something new has never been easy for my daughter, who is ten. While she’s often able to be flexible when plans change or don’t follow the schedule exactly, starting something new can be rough. I find has a lot to do with getting used to a new routine, but is mostly because she’s testing the waters, seeing just how much she can get away with. It takes several weeks at the start of each school year for her to get into a groove because she’s so busy testing the limits and boundaries, trying to determine her power with teachers, therapists, and support staff. I wrote about this once before when she struggled through the transition to first grade.

Transitions are inevitable and often out of our control.

Transitions are inevitable and often out of our control. It’s February and we’re just getting to know our third special education bus driver of the year. We loved our two previous drivers but one retired and the other was just a substitute, so here we are on our third. Last week a wonderful para professional in my girl’s ASD classroom retired. Her replacement has already spent a few days in the classroom, and I know that will help the kids with the change.

The most important thing to do is talk about it. A lot.

To prepare for the change, the most important thing in our house is to talk about it. A LOT. We made a special art project for the retiring para pro (which doubled as a fine motor workout!), thanking her for help, patience, and love. We’ll also make a card welcoming her replacement. (See our At Home Activities board on Pinterest tons of therapeutic craft ideas). I’ll even ask the new para pro a few questions to gather some fun facts that might make her more relatable to my daughter (favorite food? does she like to swim? like music? books?). The classroom teacher has done a great job helping the kids prepare for the transition as well. They worked together to type notes of thanks and even made a digital photo album chronicling her time in the classroom. I can’t even imagine hoe touched she’ll be!

“Her picture wall provides daily opportunities to talk about the people and places in her life.”

Speaking of the photo album in class, photos in general can be one of the most constructive means of facilitating familiarity and building comfort in strange and uncomfortable situations, as new people, routines, and transitions tend to be. Especially at the beginning of every year, but for this transition as well, we’ll be taking a picture or two with my girl and the new para together, to be printed out and hung on her “picture wall” in her bedroom. Her picture wall provides daily opportunities to talk about the people and places in her life, which provides a phenomenal visual construct to complement the dialogue (or monologue, very often) that takes place.

For us, this is the best way to prepare for a transition like this. Talk about the old, talk about the new, and do an activity surrounding the change as a whole, such as the goodbye and welcome cards.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, I’ll be wishing you a smooth and successful transition! I’d love to know how you navigate transitions in your family.

-Dani

Birdhouse
Birdhouse

We believe that every family should have access to technology that can help them organize the most important aspects of their loved ones' care. Our current focus is on equipping teachers, caregivers, and parents raising children with developmental disabilities with the tools they need to help their children thrive. Visit us at BirdhouseHQ.com

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