The "big" backpack on your tiny little guy is a visual reminder of your baby entering a big-boy world and all the growth and maturation soon to come. He is heading to preschool—it certainly provokes every last emotion, doesn’t it?! It’s exciting. It’s nerve-wracking. It’s bitter-sweet.
It, however, needn’t be improvised. You can work alongside your child’s teacher of students with visual impairments, orientation and mobility specialist, and early intervention specialist to help prepare your child for the social, physical, and educational aspects of preschool well before the school year begins.
Consider the following:
- Some preschools require children to be fully potty-trained prior to enrollment. If your child is yet to be diaper-free, it may be time to toilet train your child who is blind or visually impaired.
- Your child will likely participate in meal time at school. Ensure he is comfortable feeding himself and asking for assistance when needed.
- Does your child feel comfortable playing alongside and with a group of unfamiliar children? You can help him feel less anxious at school by helping him learn to develop friendships, initiate peer interactions, and play with other children.
- Help prepare your child for the materials he will encounter in school. Think tactile books and academic books with braille, braille labels, braille writer, markers (if your child is low vision), glue, blunt scissors, blocks and other common toys, playground equipment, and any assistive technology.
- Hopefully, your child is working with a mobility specialist and developing orientation and mobility skills. Arrange to work with your child’s mobility specialist well in advance of the school year so that he will be oriented to his classroom, bus, cafeteria, library, playground, and "special" rooms.
Lastly, parents and family members, as you embark on your child’s first experience with school, prepare to advocate for your child’s needs and educational rights along the journey. You are, after all, your child’s strongest advocate.