Preparing Your Child With Additional Needs For Their Transition To A New Childcare Provider

Schools across America are reopening this month, and many childcare providers will be welcoming new children into their facilities. The ways that childcare and education provisions will be reopening will vary from state to state, and special needs provisions will have been thought through carefully. Some special needs providers, however, have been forced to close their doors for good, which means that more children than usual will be adjusting to new circumstances. If you’re the parent of a child with additional needs, here’s how you can help your child adjust to their new childcare provider.

Communicate with your child’s key workers

If your childcare provider caters for children with varying needs, it’s vital that the specific needs of your child are clear to them. If special accommodations must be made in order for your child to be as independent as possible, work with your child’s key workers to see how this can be achieved. Make sure they understand any physical assistance your child may need, such as changing wheelchair positions, assistance in the bathroom, or assistance at meal times. Any problems with communication should also be made clear to caregivers. 

If your child has a condition like cerebral palsy where seizures are common, make sure your child’s key workers understand how to manage these. Special needs childcare providers have extensive training, but make sure that your child’s key worker has had specific training in handling cerebral palsy-related seizures in particular. They should be well-versed in how to shield a child from harm during a seizure, and they should know when to deliver any medication necessary to your child. 

If your child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP), share this with their childcare provider. An IEP will outline the modifications the school is providing as well as their educational goals, and this will ensure that your childcare provider is working in line with the school. This is particularly important for older children who will be making transitions to new schools: all care providers can help them with this transition if all the relevant information is shared. 

Adapting to assistive technology

If your child will be using new equipment as they begin the new school year, aim to get them accustomed to this before they head out to their new environments. Depending on your child’s specific needs, you may have elected for them to try new mobility equipment, communication devices, mealtime aids or adaptive writing tools. If they will be using new technology at school, try to keep this consistent and enable them to use it with their childcare provider too. If your child will be using a new communication device, it is particularly important that they’re familiar with it before they leave the home environment. These devices can be adapted specifically for your child, allowing them to communicate through an automated voice, pictures, symbols or letters, and they can be a wonderful tool for promoting independence as long as your child understands how to use them.

Preparing for a new environment

Depending on your child’s needs, it may be helpful to work through a social story with them to help them prepare for their new environment. Social stories were developed for children with autism, but they can be used to help children with many different needs understand and adjust to a new scenario. Whether through social stories or simply through talking through what to expect with your child, help them prepare for the adventure that lies ahead. Empower them to speak up if they have a problem, and make sure they understand how they can do this. 

Adjusting to a new childcare provider or a new classroom can be daunting for any child, but it can be a particularly difficult transition for a child with additional needs. Make sure you communicate well with your provider before hand, and prepare your child for the change by making sure they’re familiar with any new equipment and know what to expect from their time with their caregivers. This will ensure peace of mind for you, and a happy start to a new chapter for them.

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