Effective Support Strategies
Effective Support Strategies To Assist Students With Special Needs In Transitioning To School
Transitioning to school is such a critical time in the lives of students with special needs, their families and the teaching staff. Now is the time for schools and families to start planning for students who will transition to new education settings in 2011. It is important that careful planning be undertaken at least a few months prior to the transition taking place.
Many students transitioning to school will have an existing Individual Education Plan (IEP). The IEP can help in identifying existing strategies which have been utilised effectively in the past. Other documentation which can help the school includes any assessments, previous school reports, work samples, programs, visual support systems, behaviour plans and any other relevant documentation.
The aim of this article is to provide a starting point for the consideration of practical support strategies in the classroom. Some examples of key support strategies are provided below.
Key support strategies include the following;
- Assessing whether an application for special school transport is required as the school will need to provide the paperwork to the family, and forward the application to the department.
- Providing a peer buddy to assist the student with the bus travel.
- Determining who will meet the student at the bus when he or she arrives.
- Helping the student with travel training.
- Providing adult supervision at the bus stop.
- Ensuring routines are structured and preparing the student for any changes.
- Determining whether the student needs to be informed if there are changes in the classroom procedures.
- Determining whether additional supports are needed when change occurs.
- Providing the student with additional time for class changes (e.g. moving to different room and location).
- •Maintaining a communication book with the carer/parent to discuss changes at home and at chool.
Using social stories by making a book to introduce changes at school
Social stories were developed by Carol Gray. You can visit her website at www.thegraycentre.org
Social Stories include photos of the school entrance, the classroom, the teacher, uniform etc.
- Determining whether social stories will be suitable.
- Identifying who will create the social narrative.
- Deciding on who will communicate the social story whether this be the parent or teacher.
- Monitoring the effectiveness of the social story.
Considering curriculum modification
- Assessing whether the student needs note taking support.
- Allowing the student access to computer to complete work.
- Shortening the length of assignments.
- Breaking work into smaller segments.
- Providing alternative means for the student to demonstrate their ability.
- Identifying a home strategy for completing homework.
- Providing a skeletal outline for essays etc.
Adjusting to the school environment
- Monitoring the student’s interactions on the school playground.
- Intervening when problems arise such as when the student has sensory overload or is overwhelmed.
- Having school staff available to assist the student in navigating around the school and appointing a buddy.
- Incorporating structured activities at lunch time to encourage inclusion (e.g. chess, book club, music, art program etc).
- Utilising visual supports such as words, pictures, drawings, photos, objects etc. Examples include visual timetables and choice boards. Software is available such as Boardmaker (Picture Communication Symbols) www.spectronicsinoz.com
- Using a reward system.
- Teaching the student to use timelines and a to do list
- Helping the student to organise their desk, bag, homework etc.
- •Using a home school diary to inform the parent/s/carers of any school information (e.g. chool mufti day, etc)
- Providing awareness to other students in order to gain acceptance and understanding.
- Building a circle of friends around the student by encouraging group activity opportunities in the class.
- Assigning a mentor or buddy to the student.
- Identifying other peers who can support the student.
- Monitoring bullying and any issues around inclusion.
- Explaining the school code to the student (hidden social expectations and school rules).
Communication between the school and home is essential in making the transition period successful. The continued use of key support strategies is critical to the ongoing success of the school placement. A consistent approach at home and school is very important and will greatly benefit a child with special needs.
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