Community-wide approach

A community-wide approach to Transition to School for young children with disabilities and developmental delays

"Ready families + Ready Community + Ready Services + Ready schools = children ready for school".

(United States National School Readiness Indicators Initiative, 2005)

Why a community-wide approach to Transition to School?

In recent years, the definition of school readiness has broadened.

School readiness use to mean, "Does the child have the skills needed for school?"

It now means is everybody “school ready”?

That is the:

  • child
  • family
  • school
  • services
  • community?

This re-thinking of what school readiness is results from an increased understanding of the importance of the early years of childhood, and the influences on a child’s development of their relationship with their:

  • family
  • services such as preschool or child care
  • broader community such as community playgroups, friends, religious organisations

Therefore each of these environments has a responsibility to be “school ready”.

It is the connections and collaboration between family, community, services and schools which underpin successful transition to school for young children with disabilities.

‘Ready families’ refers to the child’s family situation and home environment.
Families play a crucial role in their child’s development, preparation for school and their ongoing learning.
Parents usually have the best understanding of their child’s:

  • personality
  • interests
  • learning strengths

They can use this knowledge, to work in partnership with professionals, to decide on priorities in preparing their child for school.

However, families need not feel that all responsibility is on them to “get their child ready” for school or that they need to do everything at once.

Information, practical and emotional support and training is available to assist with making the transition to school as smooth as possible.

This may include information about the range of school options relevant to their child, planning for transition to school and how to advocate for their child.

‘Ready Services’ refers to access to programmes that influence child development and teach skills which are useful in the school environment. Ready services work in partnership with the family, other services involved in the child’s care, and the new school.

Services include:

‘Ready communities’ refers to the resources and supports available to families with young children.

Examples of community resources may include:

  • other families with a child with a disability
  • other parents within the family’s community
  • support groups and networks
  • sporting or other clubs and societies
  • community-run playgroups
  • respite services
  • religious organisations.

‘Ready Schools’ describes critical elements of schools that influence child development and school success.

A “ready” inclusive school setting is one where the setting has been designed and adapted to provide the best possible education for all of its children (Cologon, 2013).

The resources of individual schools are important aspects of the school’s readiness.

These resources include:

  • attitudes, skills and knowledge. For example:
    • How welcoming is the school towards the child and their family?
    • How willing is the school to learn about a child’s disability?
    • How ready is the school to provide the flexibility to adapt and adjust programmes to meet each child’s educational needs?
    • How capable is the school of ensuring that all children have the opportunity to participate in all the same activities as their peers?
  • access to professional training to increase the skills of staff in particular areas of need
  • strong relationships both within the school and with families and the wider community
  • the ability to work in partnership with support services such as early childhood intervention (ECI) professionals and early childhood education and care (ECEC) services
  • facilities, for example: layout of the classrooms, playgrounds, equipment and resources to support teachers.