Transition planning eases milestone passages
by Anita Szabadi-Gottesman
“Parents look to the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) Student Services department (SSD) to help their child succeed,” said the department’s special educational consultant, Michelle Aubin. “As a public school system, we can offer many specialized services focused on the uniquely individualized needs of each student.”
Transitioning from daycare to formal schooling is the first transition point both the students and their parents face. The excitement is palpable as children enter their neighbourhood EMSB school through the Pre-K or Kindergarten class with varied levels of preparedness across all domains. Some parents may have had the opportunity to meet with the school principal in advance of the school year to discuss any possible learning or behavioural issues their child may have.
“Each of our elementary schools has a school psychologist, speech and language pathologist and occupational therapist that they can consult with parental permission. They can propose strategies to teachers and parents,” pointed out Aubin. “We are focused on developing tailored strategies and pathways to help the child succeed. We also have autism consultants, behaviour management specialists, as well as assistive technology specialists who are involved in all our schools.”
Transition points from Kindergarten to Grade 1, elementary to high school and finally successful graduation are prioritized, working to prepare students as much as possible to ease these milestone passages. “Each transition point provides services ranging from Early Stimulation Classes available in certain schools geared to better preparing students entering Kindergarten through to high school – for students needing a bit more support both socially and academically – to the Transition from school to working life (TEVA - Transition École Vie Active) program focusing on life skills for graduating students at age 21,” said Aubin.
Parents play an integral role throughout ensuring a better understanding of each child’s profile. “Parents value the mindful, hands-on support their child receives at the EMSB, and they so appreciate our help,” Aubin pointed out. “We work with them as a team helping their child find success in the classroom. Parents, teachers and students feel supported. Students may require minimal services to improve reading comprehension, for example, or more support after an autism spectrum diagnosis,” said Aubin. “Through SSD, we have the capacity to guide students through all means of challenges, including academic and behavioural issues, trauma, gender identification and sexual orientation – all in the strictest of confidence.”
This child-centred philosophy drives the SSD team to continually develop individualized enhanced learning strategies. “Multi-disciplinary planning is key to reaching our overriding goal of ensuring our students successfully graduate high school reaching their individual potential,” stressed Aubin. “Our classroom teachers are truly our heroes, and we rely on them as a constant, striving for the success of all their students.”