Step 1 Dreams For My Child

What Do I Want For My Child at Age 3?

As you and your child get ready to transition from Early Intervention (EI) services, it is time to think about where your child might be at 3. Some parents find it helpful to think about what their child's early childhood experience might look like. Each community in Illinois offers different options for preschool-age children. A good beginning point when you start thinking of transition is to explore the options for young children in your community. Some of those options might include:

Community Programs

  • Community preschools and other programs
  • Park district preschools and other activities
  • Faith-based preschools
  • Agency-run preschools
  • Head Start
  • Child care

School District Programs

  • State-funded Pre-kindergarten or Preschool for All
  • Early Childhood Special Education
  • Tuition-based programs

The transition period is a good time for you to begin visiting preschool programs in your community. When you visit an early childhood site, you will have an opportunity to see what various programs look like. Many parents find it helpful to picture their child as part of the group.

Here are some questions to keep in mind when you visit an early childhood classroom:

  • Are the children happy?
  • Are the children actively engaged with teachers, classroom materials and other children?
  • Would this be a safe, comfortable place for my child?
  • Does the preschool allow and encourage full participation by children with different personalities, backgrounds and abilities?
  • Will my child receive the support needed to be successful in this preschool?
  • How are families involved?
  • Does the room arrangement encourage active exploration and play for all the children?
  • What is the ratio of staff to children?
  • How are the staff trained and supervised?
  • Will my child like it here?
  • Can I picture my child in this classroom?

If your child is eligible for Early Childhood Special Education services, visiting preschool programs will help you be more confident in your role as a member of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team. Together the IEP team makes the decision about where your child will receive special education and related services. You will learn more about your role on the IEP team throughout this workbook.

If your child is not eligible for Early Childhood Special Education services, visiting community programs for young children will help you decide your child's next step.

You can use this Parent Checklist to think about and plan for this part of the transition process.

Parent Checklist

In our family, we talked about our dreams for our child. (check box)

We visited community preschools and programs. (check box)

This is what is in our community: (several lines to answer)

Places I went: (several lines to answer)

People I talked to: (several lines to answer)

How Do I Feel About My Child's Transition?

The transition from EI services brings new experiences and new challenges. Each family adjusts to all of the changes in their own way and in their own time. During the transition process, you will probably experience a range of feelings. This page describes some typical feelings and some positive strategies that parents have used during their transition process.

If you are feeling: Hopeful


  • You have good reason to feel hopeful; you are entering into a new journey with your child. Your input will help shape and guide that experience.
  • You will find support and encouragement as you form relationships with other parents and professionals.
  • You will develop positive partnerships through your experiences.

If you are feeling: Anxious


  • Many parents are concerned when their children will be away from them for longer periods of time.
  • Many parents recall experiencing more anxiety than their children.
  • Change can be scary; change can be exciting.
  • You will be able to take pride in sharing new experiences with your child.
  • Adjusting to a new and different setting takes energy and effort.
  • You might find it easier to manage feelings of anxiety by focusing on your child's strengths and planning for the next step.

If you are feeling: Less than confident


  • You are an expert on your child.
  • The insight you have gained from personal experience is as
  • important as the information gathered by professionals.
  • Your perceptions are needed to develop a complete picture of your child.
  • Your confidence will grow as you gain experience in supporting your child's education in the new setting.
  • Sharing with another parent who has been through the transition process may help you sort through what you want to do next.

If you are feeling: Ready


  • Many parents are ready for their child to move on to the next step of preschool.
  • You may be seeking more independence for your child and looking for opportunities for your child to be with other children.
  • This workbook offers information and tools to use as you move through transition and plan for your child's preschool years.

Transition Timeframe

The highlighted areas of the timeframe show when each step of the transition process usually starts. If you want some or all of the steps started earlier, talk about your concerns and questions with your service coordinator.

No highlights available so cells that are Xs are highlighted in the Workbook.
Transition Steps Every
2 yrs.
6 mon.
2 yrs.
7 mon.
2 yrs.
8 mon.
2 yrs.
9 mon
2 yrs.
10 mon.
2 yrs.
11 mon.
3 yrs.
Talk about transition questions and concerns x
Service coordinator sends referral packet to school district or special education cooperative with parent's written consent x
Service coordinator sets up Transition Planning Conference x x x
Parent, service coordinator and school district or special education cooperative representative attend Transition Planning Conference x
Local school district or special education cooperative includes parents in Domain Review process x x
School district or special education cooperative completes evaluations with parent's consent x x
IEP team including parents meets to determine child's eligibility x x
If child is eligible, IEP team writes IEP x x
IEP team implements IEP x