We had a meeting at Poss’ new school last week. They were lovely, accommodating and delightful; all the things you want to see in a new school. Poss left with a giant smile on her face, the kind that usually only comes with a new accessory for her bike, or a comic that she’s been lusting over and gave the whole thing a big thumbs up.
This change is good. It’s what she wants. And that’s more than half the battle. But it kind of feels like we’re starting all over again, from scratch. Which I guess is kind of the point, but also… exhausting.
We’ve been working with her OT to come up with some things that might help with the transition, and combined with a few things we’ve learned over the past two schools, I’m hopeful that we’ll have a good starting point.
I figure as it’s that time of year when lots of people are changing schools, or at least considering it, I thought I’d put together a few tips that have helped us in the past.
- Make it work for everyone. So many of the changes and accommodations we ask for our kids, will work for all kids. And think about it, if it’s going to help all the kids, then how much easier is it for the teacher to implement it? It’s not always going to be possible, but try and position any changes you’re requesting as to how they’ll benefit for everyone and you’ll make it that much easier for the teacher.
- Keep copies of everything. I recently had to go through a bunch of old paper work and was surprised at just how much I’ve kept, mainly in emails. I’ve gotten into the habit of confirming most things in writing, especially after a meeting or a phone call, which gives everyone a chance to dispel any misconceptions, but it also means if it all goes to hell, I’ve got copies of what was agreed.
- Buddy up. It may seem old school, but having a buddy that your child knows they can rely upon might make all the difference. See what the school offers and if they don’t have a program in place, you can request one. See point one – I bet your child isn’t the only one who would benefit…
- Time for transition. Last time Poss moved schools, we didn’t rely on just the one day for Orientation, instead we had three half days. This gave Poss a good chance to see the school operating on different days, and get to know different teachers and classrooms, as well as building the starts of friendships. We’ll be doing a similar thing this time with two half days, and a full day now booked in. Fingers crossed!
- Be on the front foot. This isn’t for everyone, but we’ve found over the years that disclosing (or more recently, supporting Poss to disclose) her diagnosis, has been a positive thing. In earlier primary school years, it involved a letter to other parents. Facing into high school I’m not sure we’ll go down that route; instead she’s writing an ‘all about me’ page at the moment, that she can share with her teachers (and a handful of friends if she chooses to), so they have some things to work with right off the bat.
These are but a few suggestions that have worked for us, but I’m always on the look out for more… If you’ve got one that works for you, please share it in the comments below!