On May 14th, 2013, I attended a parent workshop in Hamilton, On, presented by Parents As Partners through the HWDSB (Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board). The workshop was to aid parents in understanding how a child with special needs transitions from elementary to high school and the role parents can play in that transition. Child care was available for those who needed it.
The evening saw about twenty parents in attendance along with teachers from various schools. The workshop began with an introduction to Parents As Partners and TIP: Transitions for Inclusive Pathways.
Parents As Partners was formed one year ago, and determines topics helpful to parents and makes recommendations to the HWDSB accordingly. TIP are procedures focused upon… “Ensuring Success for all Students” through a caring and safe school culture based on the belief that all students deserve a learning environment in which they are safe – and feel safe – and in which they feel welcomed, respected, and inspired to meet high expectations for learning…
…The Purpose of TIP:
- To enhance student achievement – all students can succeed
- To be utilized for purposes of developing a student voice
- To enhance parental engagement
- To promote student safety
- To promote student engagement
- To decrease student and parent anxiety
- To promote student independence and advocacy
- To be delivered as an age appropriate strategy
- To ensure early planning for students
- To clearly delineate staff responsibilities at the school level
- To support the writing of a Grade 9 transition plan as part of the Individual Education Plan (IEP)
- To be used as a monitoring tool for students, parents/guardians and staff
Following this brief presentation, we parents were asked to break into small groups to discuss, and record on paper, our thoughts on school transitioning, which were collected at the end of the session to be used as an information tool by Parents As Partners.
Next, we were introduced to three sets of teachers representing various classes:
- Regular Class Grade 8 transitioning to Regular Class Grade 9
- Special Class Grade 8 transitioning to Regular Class Grade 9
- Special Class Grade 8 transitioning to Special Class Grade 9
As my two eldest grandchildren are transitioning from Special Class Grade 8 to Special Class Grade 9, I chose to sit in the group with the teachers who specialized in teaching children with special needs. Here are some of the suggestions offered to us parents by the two teachers heading our group:
- Take your child on a tour of the new school. Take photos or video of the school including the child in the shots. Map out directions to various parts of the school, such as, cafeteria, gym, washrooms, etc, so the child won’t feel so overwhelmed when first arriving at the school. If transportation is to be used, discuss the times of drop off and pick up.
- Set up a meeting with the child’s new teacher and any other staff who might be involved in order to voice your concerns and hopes for the child. Ask questions and allow the child time to meet their new teacher and see their classroom.
- Meet with your child’s teacher often to update them on the progress of your child. For example: if your child has begun sessions with a psychiatrist since the beginning of the semester, remember to inform the teacher, as the child’s various abilities, such as communication or behaviour, could have improved through the sessions. If there has been a change in the child’s medication, or home environment it could affect the child either negatively or positively, so the teacher should be made aware of the changes if possible.
- Ask for regular updates from the teacher on your child’s progress at school.
- Communicate often with the teacher through telephone calls, texts, emails, agendas, etc.
- Meet with the school regarding your child’s IEP (Individual Education Plan).
- Discuss your child’s goals with the teacher, and update if those goals change.
- Discuss what you as a parent see as long term goals for your child.
- Parent and teacher should collaborate on the child’s future.
These workshops are offered regularly by the HWDSB so if you are interested in information, please call: 905-527-5092