Choosing and transitioning to a new school
Choosing a School - Questions to Ask
Learning new routines and meeting new teachers can increase the anxiety in a learner with dyslexia. It can also be a change for the parent knowing who to now approach for information. With this in mind we have put together some questions to help with your child’s transition.
A Guide to School Jargon
Sometimes the words used in a school setting can be confusing to work out especially if they are using abbreviations such as SENCO and RTLB’s. Here are some of the more common abbreviations you will come across and what they mean. If you come across new ones - let us know - and we can add these in.
Transitioning to a new school
Moving and starting a new school can be difficult for any child but when a child has learning differences it can be very daunting.
Strategies and resources available to help parents and their children with that transition include:
- Giving your child the big picture
- What parents can do
- How to visit your school
- Other useful resources and advice
Giving your child the big picture
Working with one of your child’s strengths of seeing the big picture helps them fill in the gaps with information.
Ways to do this include;
- Take them for walks around the new school during the holidays showing them where the gym is, the office, the canteen, etc.
- Take pictures of the school so you can look at them later
- Help them understand how they will get to and from school, how long it will take and what way they will go to school. Practice doing this.
- Show them pictures of the school and staff from the school website.
- Contact the school to meet the teachers and have a look in the classrooms. You may need to visit more than once.
- Have conversations over the holidays how to be organised for getting ready on a school morning, try on the uniform so it’s comfortable (no scratchy labels) or do up a visual timetable for what to pack in their bag.
Some local high schools organise “anxiety buster” days at the start of the school year or you can contact the school to make an appointment.
What parents can do;
Plan for the transition – take the time and it will help. Remember growth spurts, hormonal changes and other changes can create temporary setbacks in things such as organisational skills. Take a deep breath and start again.
It is important that you have a relationship with the school and this would be with your child’s teacher or the teacher in charge of your child’s age group (different schools have different roles) and the school SENCO (Special Education Needs Co-ordinator).
Watch for any changes in behaviour such as not sleeping or becoming more irritable as it comes closer to starting school. These can be signs of increased anxiety. Refer to our website for information on anxiety and strategies to help manage this. Listening to their concerns and talking about what is worrying them is important.
Routine is important. Children with learning differences find change and surprises hard. Helping them establish a routine for getting ready in the morning and for after school helps them feel less anxious.
Once your child has their school timetable (after starting) spend time helping them read and understand the timetable. Look at what books they to have for those subjects, where they have to go and how to read the time correctly.
How to visit your school;
The local schools are aware that starting a new school can be challenging and provide a variety of methods to support you and your child with the transition. These include;
- Time in the week before school starts to go in and look around, whether by appointment, on a teacher only day or an open day.
- An opportunity to meet your child’s teachers.
Contact your child’s school in the week before school starts to find out what days they have available to go and look around.
Other useful resources and advice;
Understood.org – back to school downloads
7 Things I Wish People Knew About Parenting Kids With Dyslexia
Written by Chris Cole and Adele Hibbs November 2017. Updated August 2022