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Transitioning to First Grade; Success in Special Program

September 4, 2012
By Marge Eberts and Peggy Gisler ,

Question: My daughter will be starting first grade next week. She did fine moving from preschool to kindergarten. What do I need to do to make her transition from kindergarten to first grade go smoothly?

- Anxious

Answer: Stop being anxious. The more anxious you are, the more anxious your child is likely to be. Teachers are used to making the first days go smoothly for children entering first grade. Nevertheless, you daughter does need your help so that she can develop the right attitude and confidence to start first grade out on the right foot. Here are some things that you can do at home to help you and your child make the transition from the less-structured days of summer to the more-structured school routine:

Visit the school with your child if she is not familiar with the building.

Put the school routine in place a few days before school begins by having your child get up and go to bed at the times necessary for school.

Get all the supplies requested by the school so your child can take them to school on the very first day.

Set up playdates with other children who will be in her class. It really helps children to see a familiar face in the classroom during the first days back at school.

Go over transportation arrangements to and from school, and practice bus and walking safety tips.

Make sure your child understands where she will be before and after school.

Carefully read all the material that the school has sent to you.

Schedule a physical exam to make sure your child is healthy.

Be sure the child's immunizations are up to date.

Question: My son was attending a private school. At the end of fourth grade, the school first told us he had to repeat the year. Then they told us to take him to another school because he was not working at the fourth grade reading level. At the public school, he repeated fourth grade and qualified for resource classes, but we never really understood why. After we had him tested for dyslexia at a college, he completed grade school in their special dyslexia program. In the public high school, he was still in the resource room but took a pre-college program.

We worked with him constantly. Math, mechanical things and the computer were easy. Spelling and reading came very slowly. He finally learned how to write papers in his senior year and started making very few spelling errors. We just wanted to share the story of one retention that worked out successfully. It can happen.

-- Our Story

Answer: Retention is probably not the secret to your son's later success. More than likely it was getting the right help for him through the dyslexia program. And a great part of his success is doubtlessly due to all the help that he received from his family.

It is surprising that you did not understand why your son was placed in resource rooms in both elementary and high school. Such a placement is typically part of an Independent Education Plan, which parents must agree to. When children have serious problems, parents need to be closely involved in what help the schools are giving them.

Send questions and comments to Dear Teacher, care of Mahoning Valley Parent, 1 North Illinois Street No. 2004, Indianapolis, IN 46204, or log on to, or email



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