Begin with the End in Mind - Infusing Transition Planning into Elementary Classrooms

Posted by Nikki Rankin on 3/3/2017 7:00:00 AM

The rest of the year we will capitalize on the Council of Exceptional Children articles which cover several areas in the transition world. The first is entitled Begin with the End in Mind: Infusing Transition Planning and INstruction Into Elementary Classrooms  by Clare Papay, Darlene Unger, Kendra WIlliams-Diehm and Vicki Mitchell. They looked at self-determination skills, development of career awareness, and family involvement as three areas  needing attention in the elementary grades. In an earlier article, self-determination was highlighted. In that article, self-determination was viewed from a secondary level perspective. This synopsis looks at the elementary foundation that is needed to reach those secondary skills.

As most of us know, Indiana does not require transition planning until the age of 14 or entering grade 9. The foundation for secondary skills starts much younger than that in the elementary years. To increase the likelihood that students with disabilities achieve successful post-school outcomes, transition planning should begin early to ensure that students have adequate time to prepare for this transition. Even as a student finishes the 12th grade, there are some students who need more time (possibly until age 22) if they haven’t reached their goals. A longitudinal approach to meeting these goals must begin in the primary grades. Using backward planning to build educational experiences toward transition goals is a good practice for students.

Let’s begin with developing self-determination skills. Most often, this skill includes suggestions for parents and families on possible ways to create environments that lead toward the practice of self-determined behavior. Parents are capable of promoting these skills at this age. Choice making and decision making in the home environment is one approach.

Self-determined behavior is best practiced in controlled situations, which increase the likelihood of success in other environments. Research has identified nine strategies that help the promote self-determination at the elementary level: 1) understand of grades and grading; 2) charting responsibility and the level of effort; 3) identifying self-determination skills; 4) choice making;  5) self-talk; 6)levels of support; 7) making decisions;  8)problem solving; and, 9) student-directed IEP’s and conferences. These strategies provide the opportunity for children to learn and apply self-determined behaviors earlier in their development, and for these strategies to generalize across other settings.

Next time we will explore in more detail some other transition planning that supports the elementary student’s skills for post-school goals.