What Can Families Do Now?

There are number of important things that families can do to help pave the way to life in the community once your child has completed school. Below are a number of suggestions that may be helpful. Parents are encouraged to start using these suggestions as early as possible to help lay the ground work for a successful transition to adult life.

Have Positive Attitudes and High Expectations

Your attitudes towards and expectations of your child can be one of the most important factors in shaping your child’s future. He or she may be faced with negative attitudes and expectations on the part of others. Remember, however, that if you have low expectations of your child, this can have a direct impact on his or her life. High expectations do not provide any guarantees of “success”, but they will give your child a better change of reaching his or her potential. The way you view your child can influence the way others view him or her as well.

Encourage your Child

There are a number ways you can encourage your child to learn and develop his or her abilities. One of your goals should be to have your child do as much for him or herself as possible, both at school and at home. Encouraging the development of your child’s abilities will mean he or she will have to depend less on others in the future.

Encourage your child to make decisions. This will help your child to participate in transition planning and be ready to make decisions as an adult.

Help your child develop personal skills. Developing personal skills is important for a number of reasons:

  • Acquiring skills means your child will be better able to do things that will make it easier to participate.

  • Being able to do things for one self is seen as important in our society. The more your child is able to do him or herself, the more he or she will be accepted and have opportunities to get a job or to do other things in the community.

Encourage Relationships with Other People

From an early age, your child should be encouraged to spend time with others. For many of us, the friends we made as children and teenagers are the people we now have contact with as adults. Learning to get along and be involved with other people is one of the most important aspects of community participation, including employment. There are a number of practical ways to encourage your child to have relationships with other children, including enrolling your child in groups such as scouts, guides, church groups, sports, and so on.

Encourage Participation in Classroom and School Activities

For 12 or 13 years, your child will be spending a lot of his or her time in school. It is, therefore, very important that your child is able to participate in regular classroom and school activities. This should include your child spending time with other children during recess or lunch time. Your child should also be encouraged to be part of school clubs and events.

Be Involved – Involve your Child and Others

Be involved in the transition process during your child’s school years. This means helping your child set some personal goals and finding ways to achieve them. You will need to attend meetings (or even make sure they happen) and keep on top of what is happening while your child is in school. Involve your child in plans and decisions concerning future goals and what needs to happen while your child is in school.

Being involved also means being informed. You may have to learn about transition planning, work experience programs offered by schools, supported employment, etc. Also, know your community well. Who are the employers and what kind of jobs are available? What are the opportunities for summer jobs?

Prepare for Community Participation

The school years will be an important time for your child to prepare for community participation as an adult. As a general guide, you can prepare by doing the following:

  • Over the years, identify your child’s interests, preferences and strengths. Use this knowledge to help you plan for what will happen after your child is finished school.
  • Think about what community participation will mean for your child after graduation. What vision do you and your child have about his or her role in the community? What specific goals for participation would you like your child to achieve? Make sure that this vision and these goals become part of the transition planning that occurs while your child is at school.
  • As much as possible, have your vision and goals for community participation be a part of your child’s school curriculum.
  • Make sure that community participation is happening now for your child
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