These suggestions will help in the planning and preparation of your child’s entry into the school system:
- Know your rights: start learning about the school system, and the special education system in the year before your child is to attend school.
- Identify your child’s strengths and needs: Well before school begins, consider what your child needs to provide them with the best possible school experience and learning environment.
About My Child:
- What does my child enjoy?
- How does my child learn best?
- What things can my child do for himself?
- What help does my child need?
Write down the supports your child will need to fully participate at school. Identify what you will be looking for at the school and what supports your child will need.
About my Child’s Special Needs:
- What other services will my child need, i.e., physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, nursing care, assistance with toileting?
- Will my child need transportation to school?
- Is the school building accessible, i.e. ramp, or accessible washroom?
- Will my child use a mobility device, i.e. a wheelchair or standing frame at school?
Choosing a School Board:
Research school system options of choice (public, Catholic. English, French or private): Begin researching your options at least one year before your child starts school. Find out:
- What are the school board’s philosophies toward special education and inclusion?
- What are the school’s geographical boundaries?
- Can I visit the school?
Connecting with the Local School:
Make an appointment with the principal of your local school to discuss your child and supports needed by January prior to the start of school.
Questions to Ask at the School:
- When is registration?
- What documentation is required for Registration?
- Can I register on-line?
- What is the school enrollment?
- How many classes are there in each grade?
Register your Child for School:
This usually occurs between January and March.
- Find out the start date for registration
- Find out What Information You Need to Provide for Registration
Disclose Your Child’s Special Needs:
When you register your child for school you should tell the school staff about your child’s special needs. You may be asked to complete an additional form or to meet with the principal or another member of school staff. Telling the school staff about your child’s needs will help the school to plan for your child’s classroom in the fall.
Questions you May be Asked:
- Does your child have a diagnosis?
- Do you have any reports about your child from pre-school services or child care?
- What equipment does your child use?
- What help does your child need?
Questions to Ask School Staff:
- How many students will be in the classroom
- Is transportation available?
- What classroom supports will be available?
Consent to Sharing Information:
Sign consents for sharing of information with the school. You may be asked to provide consent to sharing of information about your child with the school in writing or at a meeting. Before you sign any documents make sure that you understand what you are signing.
Questions to Ask the School Staff:
- What information will be shared?
- Who will the information be shared with?
- How will the information help the school?
Transition Planning Meetings:
Attend any meetings to prepare for the transition to school. Depending on the complexity of your child’s needs one or more meetings may be held with your current service providers and the school to plan the transition into school. Transition meetings are usually held in the spring. You should plan to bring someone with you to the transition meeting. A second person can help you by asking additional questions, making notes or reminding you of issues you want to discuss.
Questions to Ask Before the Meeting:
- Who will be attending the meeting?
- What s each person’s role?
- What will be discussed at the meeting?
- What information should 1 bring to the meeting?
- Is there an agenda for the meeting?
Questions to Ask at the Meeting:
- What s the purpose and goal of this meeting?
- What do we need to discuss?
- What do you need to know about my child?
- What will happen after the meeting?
- Who will be responsible for the follow up activities?
- What do I need to do before the start of school?
Attend a School Open House:
Open houses are often held for families of students registering for Kindergarten, and as part of Education Week in early May. This gives you and your child the opportunity to tour the school and see the classrooms.
Check for more strategies at Parent Tips on Transition to School.