The excitement of transitioning to middle school from elementary school can be overshadowed by the overwhelming stress of the unknown for a special needs child. Advanced preparations can make this momentous move a smooth and easy change for your child.
Early IEP Meeting
Near the end of your child’s fifth grade school year you should schedule an IEP meeting with both the elementary and new middle school staff that will be working with your special needs child. An evaluation of your child’s services and goals should be assessed to see if any changes should be made for their first year in middle school. Take the time to discuss with the middle school staff how your child’s needs will be met; such as test taking, extended time for assignments, and techniques for improving study skills that can be reinforced at home. Having this early meeting will ensure that your child’s needs will be address during their transition to middle school.
What to Expect
The middle school atmosphere is one that boarders the playfulness of a child and that of blossoming young adult. Your special needs child will be moving around a larger building with several teachers from now on. You should help your child prepare for a larger homework load by finding an organization technique that works for them to ensure their success in middle school.
Not only will your child be expecting more homework, tests, and responsibilities, but they will also have to experience preteen developmental changes. Peer pressure begins to play a big role in the lives of middle school students. A need for acceptance and belonging can sometimes overshadow the need for academic success. Your child may experience bullying, friend break ups, or fall into “the wrong crowd”. It’s important to set up a support system that you and your child can depend on during this life changing time. Meet with the middle school guidance counselor to start an in-school support system for issues that may arise while your child is at school.
A few days before your child starts middle school, take them to the school for a trial run of their day. This will help your special needs child become familiar with faces, places, and routines that will be expected of them during the school year. It’s also a good idea to have your child practice unlocking their locker. This will ensure your child has a smooth first day at their new school.
Taking simple steps will help your special needs child transition to middle school with ease and have the support they need to succeed.