Transitioning from Early Intervention to Schools: What to Expect

Child Working at Desk

So your child is almost 3, and it’s time to start thinking about preschool. It can be a nerve-wracking time for any parent. And now you have to add on the stress of ending Early Intervention (EI) services and starting with a whole new team. Don’t panic! Your EI and school teams are there for you and your child. Here are some tips to help make sure everything goes smoothly and you feel confident making the switch.

You should have a transition meeting and evaluation scheduled before your child’s 3rd birthday. The purposes of this meeting in the school district include:

  • Determine if your child is eligible for services in the school.
  • Decide what type of classroom is best for your child’s learning.
  • Decide on the type, frequency, and duration of the services that will help your child succeed (special education services, speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, hearing/vision services, nursing, etc.).
  • Create goals individualized to your child and their needs.

If your child qualifies for any service, an INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PLAN (IEP) will be created. This is a legal document that will include everything mentioned above .

Be prepared BEFORE the meeting and evaluation.

  • Talk to EI therapists. They will do their best to help prepare you.
  • Gather any relevant paperwork that you’d like the school team to see. This can include evaluations from EI, progress reports, or any records from pediatricians or medical specialists. The school district should receive many of these reports from your EI coordinator, but that is not always the case. So bring your own and have them make copies!
  • Request an interpreter if you feel you are more comfortable in a language other than English.
  • Write down concerns, progress, special considerations, ANYTHING you want the school team to know before making decisions.
  • Write a list of questions you want to make sure you have answered before you leave the meeting. THIS IS IMPORTANT! So often the meeting can feel overwhelming with so many people and tons of information. Writing things down both before and during the meeting will help ensure you walk away feeling like you have everything you need!

Speak up DURING the meeting.

  • ASK QUESTIONS! As mentioned above, you will be given A LOT of information. Some of it may be confusing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Understand your rights. As a parent, your rights are protected. You should be given a document that states these rights. It’s important to understand them.
  • YOU ARE A PART OF THE TEAM. This means you are part of the decision making. You have the right to disagree with decisions being made. If this is the case, make it known.
  • Make sure you leave knowing the following information….
    • Did my child qualify for services?
    • What services will my child be receiving?
    • How often and for how long will they receive these services?
    • Are services given in a group or individually?
    • Are services given inside the classroom? Or in a separate room?
    • What type of classroom will my child be in?
    • How many other students will be in the classroom?
    • How many teachers/aides will be in the classroom?

Know what to expect AFTER the meeting:

  • Make sure you receive a copy of all paperwork discussed at the meeting. The IEP is a legally binding document. If your child transfers to a different district, the new school will have to honor your child’s IEP.
  • If your child receives an IEP, you should have annual meetings with his or her school team. However, this does not have to be the only time you talk to the child’s teachers and therapists! Talk to the school about the best way to communicate with the therapists throughout the year.
  • If you have more questions, ASK! Get in touch with EI or the school to ask any unanswered questions.

Just remember, the Early Intervention and school teams are there for your child and your family. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Get your concerns heard and your questions answered!

We love working with toddlers and their families! Would your child benefit from seeing a professional Speech-Language Pathologist, Occupational Therapist or Physical Therapist? Contact us today to schedule an evaluation or complimentary screening!

By: Aly Fergus, M.A. CCC-SLP

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