Where Will I Be Now That I'm 3?
Going to preschool for the first time is a new experience for any family with a young child. Just as you were part of services in Early Intervention, you will be part of your child's new early childhood experience. Remember that you are always an important part of your child's team. Your team will be most effective when everyone builds trust and uses open communication. Now that you are nearing the end of the transition process, helping your child get ready for school is the next step. We want to give you a sense of what a preschool classroom might look like and how your child will spend the day.
Preschool classrooms are fun, safe places that offer young children opportunities to learn, make friends and develop new skills. Whatever the name of your child's program, you will find some similarities in all early childhood settings. Early childhood classrooms often have learning centers such as a library, dramatic play, art, writing, fine motor and blocks. A typical day might begin with circle time in which children talk about what will happen that day. Center time is scheduled throughout the day. Centers focus on play and children learning through play. A day at preschool goes by quickly.
When children with and without disabilities learn and play together they are more likely to improve academic performance and increase communication and socialization skills.
"It was the first day of school and our daughter was to ride the bus to school.
We waited outside for the yellow bus to come down our street. She was dressed in her shorts and had her book bag on, ready for school. I was nervous for her to ride the bus to school, but when the bus pulled up the smile on her face relieved my nerves.
She walked up the stairs, turned around and waved good-bye. I watched as the bus drove down the street until it was out of sight."
-Jamie, a proud mom
For many parents, preschool may be the first time their child will spend part of the day away from home. Often parents talk about feeling anxious when their child begins preschool. Questions like "Will my child be OK?" or "How will the teacher know what my child wants?" are typical. Using this workbook will help you and your child feel prepared for the first big day of preschool.
There are many ways you and your child can prepare for this new adventure into early childhood. Take a look at the tips and strategies on this page. Pick the ones that you want to do with your child.
Parent-to-Parent Tips and Strategies:
Talk to my child about going to school.
Make a list of community and district preschool options I enjoyed.
Visit preschools and take pictures of the room, building and playground.
Share pictures with my child when we talk about going to school.
Read stories with pictures and watch videos about young children going to preschool.
Make a picture book of what children do during a preschool day.
Include pictures of who will kiss my child good-bye and welcome my child home after school.
Make arrangements to visit the classroom with my child before the first day of school.
Ask the teacher to give my child a tour of the classroom.
Show my child where to hang his or her backpack and coat.
Ask the teacher if my child can bring a transitional object or photo book to class for the first month of school.
Encourage my child to play alone for short periods of time.
Encourage my child to play with other children somewhere away from my home such as a friend's house.
Encourage my child to make simple choices between two items such as what toy to play with or what afternoon snack to have.
Encourage my child to begin taking care of his or her own things such as hanging up a coat or putting away toys.
Encourage my child to request help when needed.
Celebrate our accomplishments!
As I look back on my daughter's transition from early intervention, I remember having many mixed emotions. It was exciting to think of my daughter going on to preschool. Yet I was nervous about all the changes that would take place for Sarah and our family. What I know I'll never forget is the support my early intervention providers gave me to better understand that important next step, what options I might consider, and what I could do to help this transition work for Sarah. I asked many questions over those last six months, went to meetings and then asked more questions. When Sarah started early childhood special education that November, I was excited because I knew she was in the best environment with an excellent IEP.
My daughter and I learned a lot in early intervention. When I talk to transitioning parents today I share my story and encourage them to ask questions, use available resources, explore their communities and take advantage of all the Illinois Early Intervention system offers to them.
Sarah has had several transitions over the years. The lessons we learned transitioning from Early Intervention have helped us throughout Sarah's life.
We learned that it is important to be involved and stay involved in our child's IEP team. As a team we celebrated each of Sarah's small and large successes.
We learned that it is OK to disagree and it is OK to ask questions and it is OK to share our feelings.
Perhaps the most important lesson we learned is that the relationships we build with others extend beyond one meeting, once a year. The relationships that we built have supported Sarah in becoming the accomplished young woman she is today.
-Sarah and Sarah's mom