Supporting Early Childhood Transitions

Establish a Supportive Early Childhood Environment

Successful transitions are created through supportive early childhood environments. Key components of supportive early childhood environments include: inclusive settings, clear expectations, family involvement, realistic expectations, and futures planning. 

High Quality, Inclusive Environments

In early childhood programs, it is important that schools provide high quality, inclusive environments to support children with disabilities. Meaningful interactions and experiences with non-disabled peers will help prepare preschoolers with disabilities for elementary grade levels. Early childhood special education (ECSE) services should always be provided in the least restrictive environment (LRE). A general education preschool setting should closely resemble what a student would experience in kindergarten.

Clear Expectations

As children advance from one setting to the next, it is important that teachers set clear expectations. To prepare preschool students for future transitions, ECSE programs should utilize the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines and commissioner-approved curriculum to ensure rigor and alignment with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). Using a curriculum that incorporates the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines will support students and prepare them for elementary school. Any modified curriculum should also be aligned to support students as they strive for kindergarten readiness. Preschool teachers should gradually increase expectations for students who will enter kindergarten to prevent them from becoming overwhelmed. Waiting in line, sitting at a desk, walking in the hallway, sitting at circle time, and working in a group are skills that preschool teachers can actively address in smaller settings. Ready-to-learn skills help students when they transition to larger settings, such as kindergarten.

Family Involvement

Teachers can support families by giving them activities they can do at home to help prepare their children for transition. Families can also help prepare by “reading to children, visiting a library, singing songs, playing games, etc.” (Rous et al., 2006). This guide provides additional suggestions and tips for involving families in the transitions of young children.

Futures Planning

The admission, review, and dismissal (ARD) committee should consider the skills a student will need for future success when determining a student’s specially designed instruction. Building self-determination skills early can help pave the way for a more successful transition when the student is ready to graduate from high school. Skills such as choice-making, decision-making, problem-solving, self-regulation, and self-awareness should be viewed as critical components to a student’s well-rounded educational program.  Teachers can begin working on these lifelong skills in preschool