When transitioning a child to Prep, a range of strategies are recommended to support children to become familiar and comfortable with the new environment, routines and people. The My New School Story provides children who are transitioning to prep with specific, individualised information about their new school. The story can introduce physical locations, important staff and routines within the day.
Using the child's preferred learning style
Children are more able to understand, remember and use information if it is presented in their preferred learning style. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often have a visual and or kinaesthetic learning preference i.e., information they can see and are actively involved in doing, making and experiencing is more likely to be retained, processed and/or applied.
The use of visual information, such as a story containing photos, a PowerPoint, a movie or interactive book or video application, may all provide specific information to the child with ASD. The choice of how to use visual information in the My New School Story will depend on the best way for the individual child.
It is important to ensure the child is involved wherever possible in creating the My New School Story by:
- allowing them to assist with capturing, selecting and labelling images, photos or symbols
- having them involved in the filming, editing and addition of language to a movie, book or video.
Tips for developing a My New School Story
Determine the most important locations and routines that you wish to introduce in the story (e.g. classroom, teacher, bag rack, toilet, playground).
Use language that is appropriate for the child (i.e. length and complexity of sentences) keeping sentences as short and specific as possible.
Use visual information that is appropriate for the child (e.g. photographs, pictures, drawings, or symbols that will make sense to the child).
Select a medium that will be engaging and motivating for the child (e.g. paper, tablet computer, PowerPoint, movie).
Include some of the child's known or preferred routines and interests so the child has something to attach or link their memory of their new school to (e.g. sitting on the mat, preferred books, known peers).
Finish the story on a positive note (e.g. I will have fun at my new school!).
A sample template is provided as an example of the format and styling that may be used within a My New School Story. This document is an example only and will need to be adjusted to ensure it is suitable for the individual child's needs and their Prep environment. Modifications may include adjustments to:
- the length of the story
- the amount (number) of visual information
- the amount of text
- the style of the text
- details of the images
- the medium used (video, interactive book, PowerPoint, booklet).
This story can be compiled by parents, ECEC and/or Prep staff and may be a collaborative effort of the transition team.
Sharing My New School Story
The story should be used in combination with a range of other strategies to prepare the child for the start of school, as documented within the child's individual transition plan.
Ensuring the story is read with the child several times assists the child to become familiar with the information presented in the story. Suggestions include:
- incorporate reading or viewing My New School Story into daily routines at home and the ECEC setting
- read or view My New School Story before transition visits to the school
- read, view or edit My New School Story at school with Prep staff during transition visits
read or view My New School Story before and during the morning of the first day of Prep.