Fall is quickly approaching and we have begun the Transition Talk at our house. We have talked about how when September comes, things will change, and that although things will be different, they will still be fun. Yes, it will be sad to say goodbye to the preschool we love, the summer activities we have participated in, and the friends we have made there. But, new friends will be made and new adventures will be had.
Our 6 year old, Lauren, will be starting first grade and Alex, our 5 year old, is getting ready for kindergarten. Lauren is excited to go, but sad that her summer is almost over. Alex is a little anxious about starting kindergarten: although he is excited to go, he knows that none of his pre-school friends will be in school with him.
Transitions are hard for all kids. They are often hard for parents. They are even harder for children with special needs and their parents as many parents of children with special needs have never had a break from caring for their child. They haven’t had the opportunity to learn how to help others learn to care for their child and to see that others are also able to help take care of their child. And, they haven’t had a chance to see that their child can do well in many environments. They also haven’t had a chance to take a break from caring for their child.
For many, Early Childhood (a school-district based program that begins at age 3 for children with special needs) is the first time children with special needs are away from a parent for several hours at a time. Families often find this transition challenging because they are no longer a part of every minute of their child’s life. The next major transition is when the child starts kindergarten and is away from the home for an even longer period of time. Families have less contact with the school than they did with the Early Childhood teacher. This can be very nerve-wracking for families whose child needs are greater than those of other children.
Gio’s Garden offers families of children with special needs a unique opportunity to work on these transitions. Our staff is specially trained to work with children with special needs. From the moment we receive a family’s application we start thinking about how we can best support this family. We sit down with each family and discuss what services they have, what services they might be able to benefit from, and what they would like their child to work on while he or she is at Gio’s Garden’s Recreation Therapy and Respite Program. During a child’s visit we fill out a Daily Sheet that we discuss with the family when the child is picked-up. This allows the family to know how their child’s day was and provides an opportunity for discussion of ways we can work with the family to support them and their child. Our upcoming Parent Education and Training Series will include things such as helping families learn how to train respite providers, how to set up good communication systems with schools and other childcare providers, and how to manage transitions.
Please keep checking our website and facebook page for updates on our upcoming Parent Education and Training Series and have a great fall!
Sandy is the Gio’s Garden Board President and has a daughter with special needs. Read more about Sandy and her family’s story at Sandy’s Bio.