Changing Schools? How to Plan for a Smooth Transition
Posted on 08/29/21 in School by Milestones
As we approach the end of the summer, many families are relocating to different areas. There could be a number of reasons for this change. Some may be facing eviction after the housing moratorium expired at the end of July. Other families have seen dramatic changes in their services over the course of the pandemic and are looking for a different arrangement moving forward. Since a family's district of residence is frequently tied to where they live, many students' services can be interrupted. Whether your family’s relocation was planned in advance or is going to be abrupt, there are a few things you can do to help your student adjust to their new school.
Immediately contact your IEP team to notify them of potential housing changes.
Housing changes can be a big stressor for everyone. There may be temporary regressions or disruptions at school as your family begins the process of relocating. Alerting the IEP team to these changes can help them prepare the student for changes in their school setting and better meet the student’s needs if behavior changes start to occur. Furthermore, they can also open a dialogue with the student’s IEP team at a new school if you’re moving out of the district. In the event that you are facing eviction, your school team might also have suggestions for housing resources and other social services in your area.
Confirm whether your school has open-enrollment.
Open enrollment is a term used to refer to a school that allows students to attend to regardless of where their family lives. If you are attending an eligible school, this can be an excellent solution and can decrease some stressors for the student. For public schools in Ohio, a list of open enrollment policies (sorted by district) can be found here on the Ohio Department of Education’s website. Private and charter schools have their own policies, which can usually be found on their website with their enrollment eligibility information or by speaking with the school’s admissions office.
Schedule a meet and greet with the student’s new school team.
If your student is not able to remain at their prior school, you can help support the adjustment process by connecting with the new school district as early as possible. They can answer many of the questions you have regarding classroom setup and with starting the process to transfer IEP services. You can even create a one-page document detailing the student’s interests and preferences, such as this downloadable template from Milestones.
Take a tour of the school and use social stories.
Prior to moving, you can schedule a tour with the school so that the student can walk through the halls, the cafeteria, the playground, and meet with people that they’ll soon be interacting with on a daily basis. During this trip, you can take pictures of the locations the student will be frequenting and perhaps even have them in the pictures participating. Then you can write a brief social story and read it with the student on a regular basis. This can help this student feel more confident and secure in their new environment. For tips on creating a social story, click here.