Preparing for the move to ‘Big School’
Going from the gentle world of nursery to primary school is a big step for a child (and their parents!). Research has shown that parents worry about the progress of their child at all stages, but the transition into primary school is especially concerning as it may be the first time they have been separated. Here are some things to think about as you plan your child’s next step.
“Look at all the options and choose what you think will be the best for your child. You might have to fight for it, but go with your gut. I had the choice of Special Education where Melissa was happy, but we thought our local Mainstream School would be best in the end. Trust your instinct, nobody else knows your child like you do.” Jennifer Cassidy. Melissa’s Mum
What kind of help is available?
- Additional therapy through Right Start: Through the Right Start project you may be eligible for additional therapy to help your child’s mobility, communication, balance and confidence. See below to see if you are eligible.
- Additional Support for Learning: The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act (2004) places duties on local authorities and other agencies, to provide additional support where needed to enable any child or young person to benefit from education. This simple and easy-to-read guide explains in simple language your and your child’s rights, the roles and responsibilities of staff involved with your child, what to expect at meetings and much more. You can download a copy here.
- Choice of school: In deciding which school is best for your child you may find the following tips on visiting a school. You can find factsheets on placing requests and resolving disputes resolving disputes here.
- Equipment: Physiotherapists or occupational therapists will usually visit the setting to provide advice on new or different equipment, and strategies to help each child gain greater access to the curriculum.
- Advice: enquire.org.uk are the Scottish advice service, funded by the Scottish Government, focused on additional support for learning. They offer independent and impartial advice on education and disability rights and how pupils should be supported to become successful learners.
What can be achieved?
- Communication: In school a child may have to do more talking. A plan can be put in place to enable them to communicate without becoming too tired, or overusing certain muscles e.g. on an ipad.
- Balance and gross motor skills: Therapy can help work on balance, or gross motor skills to be able to stand and pull trousers up and down to go to the toilet, change shoes and splits or get ready for PE.
- Fine motor skills: Strengthening exercises can make holding a pen or using scissors easier.
Are you eligible for Right Start?
Bobath Scotland has received Big Lottery funding to deliver the Right Start project for young children with a primary diagnosis of cerebral palsy between the ages of 2-6 years old.
The project offers Bobath therapy sessions to provide the extra support needed to enhance a child’s abilities, build their resilience and confidence paving the way for them to enjoy school and become successful learners. To find out more contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Ciaran's mum on preparing for primary school
“Ciaran has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, when he was born the doctors weren’t sure if he would walk. He does walk, loves playing but he does struggle with his speech. We understand a bit, but we don’t get a lot and he gets very frustrated. As part of his preparation for school we were given a Novochat machine on loan. The difference in Ciaran’s life in that month was amazing. Anything we didn’t understand he could get the machine and bring it over to us.
He loves nursery and does really well, everyone understands him and all the other kids rally around if he needs help. He should use his frame for walking but he’s reluctant to use it because none of the other kids do. We started taking him to Frame Football, where all the kids use one and he’s adapting to it better. It’s great for him to see there are other people out there the same as him, he’s not the only one.
Ciaran doesn’t like change and so the school have arranged for him to have extra settling in sessions every week until he starts in August. His OT and physio have been to the school and are compiling their recommendations. They’ve already spoken to me about wedge cushions for his back and the floor so he can sit comfortably, yet not look different from the other children.
Ciaran is taking part in the Right Start programme. His goals were to work on his balance, posture and speech. He struggles with his hands, some days he can open his hands and other days he can’t. At Bobath he’s learned to pull his trousers down so he can go to the toilet himself. He’s also learned to drink through a straw. And at home he can now go up the stairs holding onto the bannister. The difference in him is amazing.
I used to have to help him around the softplay, four weeks after his therapy he held his hand up and told me he was going around the softplay on his own. It’s given him confidence, shown him how to correct things on his own very easily, and given him greater strength in his body. All round he’s coping a lot better.” Ciaran’s mum Jacqui.