Last time I was talking about how to teach healthy anger management to children. In this episode od Bea Inclusive TV I will focus on how to prepare our provision and help children with transitioning to school.
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If you are new to me – my name is Bea and this VLOG is dedicated to advocating truly inclusive school provision through well researched, safe and recommended approaches such as Lego-based Therapy.
So, here is me inviting you to follow my journey in creating truly inclusive provision that will help you to support children and develop your skills. Are you ready? Let’s go!
After a long period of uncertainty and change the Department for Education has once again issued separate operational guidance:
– for schools and for specialist settings
and children will be returning to school from the 8th of March.
All therapies and support that would normally be in place for children and young people with EHC plans should be provided.
However, there may be times when it becomes more difficult to do so than usual. In collaboration with local authorities and health partners (where applicable), you should work with families to co-produce alternative arrangements for delivering provision.
These decisions should be considered on a case-by-case basis which takes account of the needs and circumstances of the child or young person, avoiding a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
I will place the link to this guideline if you did not see them yet.
Our children may be feeling anxious or confused. Some eager to come back others nervous and not happy with the change so our role is to decrease the anxiety and help with transitioning.
To reintegrate children back to school routine we must take careful consideration of our children lockdown experience (as some children may not have a lot of structure or social time during the lockdown, or maybe some of them may be less independent).
Other things to consider are communication issues (some children may forget how to communicate effectively in a positive way or maybe developed new, negative ways of expressing their needs).
Third, an extremely important issue, is the process of adapting to the change, the explosion of social interactions and emotional support especially in the first week back to school.
Of course, you could say that I forgot about the academic gap, but I did not. I’m simply prioritising. I believe that in the first week back to school – the main goals for children is to get used to the routine, all the changes in the environment and reductions in accumulated anxiety.
So, if you wonder what to do academic wise, I suggest planning something that children are familiar with or something that they enjoy doing.
This does not mean that we forget about the STRUCTURE, national curriculum and we plan free to play all day.
I suggest planning familiar academic activities and games. Make sure you structure the day with the visual schedule for the whole class as well as for the individual children where necessary. The use of structure and visual will decrease children anxiety and give them a sense of safety and security.
I always compare changes like this to the first day at school and I encourage you to act now and plan how to address these issues so we can ease the transition.
REMEMBER that well planned and executed transition will eliminate unwanted challenging behaviour and create a positive first day back. This means less stress for teachers, parents, and children.
Introducing changes gradually will make it easier for children so I would create the transition book and send it/email it to parents/children at home.
But Bea -What should I include in the transition book – you will ask.
I will place a list of things that I believe you should include in your transition book but remember that the transition book is like the social story and MUST be personalised to your SEND children so please make sure that they individualised and adapted.
This first morning, after such a long-time off school, maybe incredibly stressful for families so it’s good to remind them about going to bed earlier and to prepare the morning routine in advance.
A smooth morning for the child can make a difference for the school behaviour and vice versa. The school activities must be balanced so the child anxiety will stay low so when they come back home, they will not trash the place to steam out of accumulated emotions in the school. So please do not forget to include relaxation, breathing, grounding activities, sensory toys, sensory breaks, etc.
The Transition book/social story should give children the idea of the changes when they come back to school. This should be prepared in advance and send to families so they can prepare themselves for the changes. This will help children to decrease anxiety level, give them a sense of security, remind them of how the things look like (as your transition book for SEND children – should include pictures of the class, teachers, sitting place, groups/bubbles, breaks, resources, sanitising stations, toilets, etc.). If your staff wears masks or other forms of protection it would be good to attached pictures of the class team with and without them.
You can even make a game out of it Guess who – matching game). To ease the worry or excitement of getting back to school as well as to help with the time concept you can send the visual countdown calendar.
To make the school transition smoother I like to create checklists and weekly schedule as children prefer to know in advance what’s on each day.
Don’t forget to dust off your visual prompts including emotions prompt cards, sensory toolbox, yoga mats, etc.
I would avoid competitive games and novelties on that day as a lot of children were not able to socialise and may struggle with losing concept.
The last thing to consider is lunchtime. After such a long time out of school children may get used to a different type of food and this may cause unnecessary stress for them. Please make sure that children will know what for lunch in the first week and add this to your transition book so families can plan if the child will be eating school dinner and what the options are. There should be at least 2 food choices for the child. If children and families will know in advance that on Monday the 8th for lunch will be something that makes their child nervous or they know the child would not eat anything they can send the lunch box that day.
Remember to get through the transition book in the school. After the relaxation/ mindfulness session this should be the first thing you are doing. Simply talk about the transition book and ask children to remind you what’s on this week. Ask them about their emotions and share with yours. Get through the routine and rules and ask children if they on the school dinner or lunch box.
Transitioning it’s an extremely important part of the truly inclusive provision. Not only before and during the first day at school but every day.
There you have it!
I hope that that this episode of Bea Inclusive TV helped you with this difficult transition time and you will prepare yourself and your children well.
Do you use transition books/social stories in your setting? If you do please share with us your ideas? What else have you prepared for children you support? Please share your ideas so we can learn together. And las one thing – how do you feel about this huge change? How will you look after yourself in this exciting but stressful time?
I’m looking forward to hearing from you.
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