Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Visiting Kindergarten: Social Story

It's the time of year when, in pre-k special needs classes, we begin to think about the process of transitioning children to kindergarten.

This year, there is a little girl in my class with an interesting combination of strengths and challenges.

She has a good cognitive skills and a good ability to learn vocabulary and concepts through incidental learning. She has a solid base of kindergarten pre-academic skills (she knows all of the letters of the alphabet upper and lowercase, she can count to 15, she can identify 11 colors and 6 common shapes. She knows many beginning consonant sounds, has an awareness of rhyming words, can read all of the names of the students in class and reads approximately 10 sight words.)

She gets overwhelmed with new experiences and has difficulty transitioning to new activities (especially if it is in a different location on campus). She still needs staff support for potty training. Her fine motor skills are significantly delayed and she still needs staff support for many tasks that include visual motor planning.

We have decided to try to specifically address an area of strength with an area that is a significant challenge for her while she is still in pre-k. She is going to start going to a shared reading and phonics lesson with a kindergarten class for approximately 20 minutes a day. Since she has good cognitive skills and she does not need any staff support in our pre-k large group circle time, we are going to try to balance this with the challenge of accepting a new experience. We are hoping that she will become familiar with the kindergarten building, the kindergarten classroom and the larger group of kindergarten students. We are also hoping that our pre-k staff can go with her for a short period of time and then fade away so that we increase her independence and comfort in the kindergarten classroom.

To help her prepare for this, we have drafted a simple social story (you can download a generic copy here.) about going to the kindergarten classroom. She has a copy at home that her family has read with her for the past week and there is a copy at school that classroom staff have been reading with her too. We have also started walking past the kindergarten room and having conversations about visiting kindergarten on Monday.

We're hoping by layering in the staff support and also building on her strengths, she will begin to feel comfortable and be able to learn new skills in the kindergarten class.