Many developmentally delayed toddlers move their therapeutic and educational services to a toddler developmental group, A.K.A. special needs program, when they are between 18 and 30 months old. Not all of them slide into the routine easily. There can be a few tears and a lot of complaining about fitting into a schedule /leaving a fun activity because it is time for circle or therapy.
After speaking with a handful of clients and doing a few consultations, I thought it might help to provide some strategies to help parents make their child’s first school experience easier:
- Learn how teachers mark activity transitions, and commit to using them at home. Some teachers sing the “clean-up song”, some ring a bell or turn lights on and off. Find out exactly how the staff help children, especially non-verbal children, anticipate and adjust to changes.
- You don’t need to copy the exact transition strategy, but make it very similar and use it for activities at home that are the easy transitions. Examples of easy transitions at home are getting into a bubbly tub, leaving the table once full and satisfied, putting on a coat to go outside and play, etc. The transitions that are easiest are going to be the calmest, and children learn best when calm. This positive spin makes the school’s routine more acceptable when a child isn’t completely on board with new situations.
- Find out how snack is served, and offer snacks in the same way at home. If small cups are used for water or juice, practice cup drinking at home with the same sized cup. If there are specific foods offered, then stock up. Model your enjoyment of these snacks so that the food is familiar and has your seal of approval.
Good luck this year to all the toddlers that have made the leap to school!!