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Children with Special Needs in Childcare

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January 9, 2019

Announcer: Farm & Family is a production of Mississippi State University Extension Service. 

Amy: Alicia, tell us about your work throughout the state.

Alicia: The Early Years Network: Children with Special Needs is part of the Early Years Network, a Mississippi State University Extension program. Today, we would like to share with your listeners about the transition from preschool to kindergarten for children with special needs.

Amy: Yes and transitioning a child from preschool to kindergarten is a milestone, isn’t it?

Alicia: Kindergarten is a special and memorable experience for children and families. Children are exposed to opportunities that foster social, emotional, and academic growth.  These opportunities can be challenging for families of ALL children and possibly more so for families of children with special needs.  This is why it is important to plan ahead and support your child during this time of transition.  

Amy: How can parents plan ahead, Alicia? 

Alicia: Parents of young children with special needs play an active role in the transition from preschool to kindergarten.  Your child may have received an Individualized Education Plan, an IEP, at the age of three from your child’s local school.  Upon entrance to kindergarten, services acquired in preschool will be transferred to school age services.  This transition of service will require an IEP meeting to take place between parents and the local school district to update current educational goals and location of services for your child.  

Amy: When should parents meet with school officials to plan for the transition to kindergarten? 

Alicia: It is important for this meeting to take place before the first day of school to ensure services are not interrupted for your child.  For parents, this IEP meeting may look different from previous meetings as a school representative, general education teacher, special education teacher, and therapists who will be serving their child should be in attendance. In addition to an IEP meeting before the first day of kindergarten, parents can collaborate with their early childhood provider to ensure your child is ready for the transition. Research tell us that families who show a positive attitude towards school and learning have more success transitioning to kindergarten.  To further support a smooth transition, consider the following suggestions.

  1. Contact your local school district in early spring to request an IEP meeting to transition into kindergarten.
  2. Arrange an initial meeting with your child’s new teacher before the 1stday of school; ask for a sample daily routine from the kindergarten teacher and share it with your child before the first day of school.
  3. Request a school tour that you and your child can take.

Supporting your child in this transition will lay the foundation for a great kindergarten year! 

Amy: That’s all great information, Alicia. What questions should parents ask or who can help them navigate the IEP process?

Alicia:  It’s important to come prepared with your questions. So much information will be provided on the day of the meeting, that parent questions can sometimes get lost. Some questions for parents to consider are:

  1. What type of additional therapy service will my child receive? 
  2. If a child is receiving additional therapy like speech therapy or occupational therapy, where will my child receive these services?  
  3. Parents might want to know how often the therapist or teachers will provide progress notes.  
  4. Also, parents might want to know, if they have concerns throughout the year, how do they request a meeting.

We like to encourage families to have both parents at the meeting or someone who can help take notes and remind the family to ask their questions.  Mississippi has several resources that help families as children move from grade to grade. Early Years Network, Children with Special Needs has the Parent Navigation Program. This program supports families as they navigate the world of IEPs and make that transition from the preschool environment to elementary school. For more information, find us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram or our website at   

Amy: Today we’ve been speaking with Dr. Alicia Westbrook, Project Director of Early Years Network.  I’m Amy Myers and this has been Farm & Family. Have a great day! 

Announcer: Farm & Family is a production of Mississippi State University Extension Service. 

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