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Monday, October 19, 2009

A family support worker speaks about the transition to school

An interview with Kim from Firstchance Strengthening Families for Stronger Kids
The notes in square brackets [ ] are my additions.

Q: What is the name of your service and what children/families does it support?

Firstchance Strengthening Families for Stronger Kids (SFSK) supports families in the Lake Macquarie area (NSW, Australia) who have a child with a diagnosed disability.

Strengthening Families for Stronger Kids provides information support, quarterly newsletters, parent training/information sessions, parent mentor/coffee mornings and access to the Firstchance Resource Library (very up to date).

Some of our events in the past that have met a group need are the Hunter Movie Club (in partnership with ASPECT and Stuart Centre), Family Camp, Siblings Group, and a Family Picnic.

Q: What do you do to help children and families prepare for school?

We can support families in the Lake Macquarie Area transition their child to school if they do not have access to any other early intervention or service that can do this.

Q: What have you found to be the things parents find most difficult in the transition to school process?

Communicating with the school: Parents can often feel daunted by the number of school staff present compared to parent/s in attendance at Transition meetings/IEP(Individual Education Plan) meetings. Parents can often feel as though they don't know enough about what they can expect the school can offer them, and this is why each term SFSK has a parent information session called "Getting the most out of your school."

Q: What things would you say children struggle with the most in the transition to school?

The increased independence required, communication, social skills and attention to task skills [such as concentration, sitting still].

Q: What could a parent do at home to get their child ready for school?

Ensure their child can communicate with other people who are not familiar with them because even though you may know what your child is telling them others may not understand them. For children with communication difficulties, consider using augmentative communication such as a key-ring with "survival" Boardmaker pictures including, but not restricted to: toilet, eat, drink, help, happy, sad, angry. [See example here]

Support your child to become more independent in putting clothes on, shoes, toileting, eating and blowing their own nose.

Support your child to be able to take turns with other children and some simple games to play with other children at recess and lunch whilst at school.

Support your child to increase their attention to task through cognitive activities they enjoy and then extending them in the activities that are less preferred. [Cognitive tasks might include playing card games, drawing, listening to stories and so on]

Q: What advice would you give parents as they think about the transition process?

Prepare early and start to think about the best environment for your child that is going to assist them reach their maximum potential.

Don't assume the school knows things about your child or have read reports, it doesn't hurt to take a copy of recent reports along to every meeting to ensure class teacher sees them.

Always take a support person to any meeting you go to at school for emotional support and to write down minutes.


Thanks so much, Kim, for your contribution. Visit to find out more about SFSK.



hungeryjack November 1, 2009 at 6:08 PM  

Nice post - boardmaker pictures ..Keep Posting

boardmaker pictures

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