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Special School District of St. Louis County

Transition Process is Collaboration

Fear, concern, excitement and anticipation – these are all feelings that a young child who receives services from Special School District and his or her parents might have when they anticipate the first educational transition from early childhood special education (ECSE) to elementary education.

SSD teams work with partner districts to make this transition as easy and as comfortable as possible for the student and parents or guardians. 

When children from the ECSE program transition into elementary school, they have their own set of challenges including changes in curriculum and expectations, as well as different forms of communication with the school.

“They also have to deal with going from a half-day program in most cases to a full-day program, developing friendships, fitting in, and growing independence,” said Michelle Levi Perez, administrator for SSD’s Parent Education and Diversity Awareness program.

Early childhood and elementary school educators work together in many ways to make sure that all students can be successful and that the transition process goes well.

“The teams work together by early, consistent communication,” said Levi Perez. “The kindergarten staff does observations in the early childhood setting. Some of the districts we work with do transition nights where parents can ask questions of school-age special education teams.”

She adds that there are kindergarten preparation nights where kindergarten teachers talk to parents, facilitators are available to help create transition books for students, and kindergarten tours are available.

Deb Crowder, director of early childhood special education at SSD, said one of the concerns she hears frequently from parents is that students may be coming from an ECSE classroom of eight to 10 students with multiple adults into a classroom of 15 or more students with only one adult.

“We work hard to ensure that our students are placed in the least restrictive environment possible, but the student-teacher ratios will always be different,” said Crowder. 

Staff at both levels work hard to keep communication open during the school year to ensure that all aspects of transition run smoothly.

Many resources are available to help families with transition from ECSE to elementary school including books, DVDs, and websites. To access this information, contact Joann Noll at 314.989.8108 or by email at
photo of preschool girl

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12110 Clayton Rd, Town & Country, MO 63131  /  314.989.8100  /  314.989.8552 – 711 (Missouri Relay)

Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD) is a leader in providing special education services to students with disabilities and also provides a wide range of career and technical education programs.
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