Have you ever crushed it at your job, earned that promotion, and then were suddenly left with the feeling that you don’t know what you are doing?! Being in your previous job was comfortable, you had been doing it for years, knew the expectations, and could do what was asked of you without difficulty. Now you are ready to move on up in the workplace and take on new responsibilities in a different environment. Gasp! This is not what was expected!
Suddenly the rules are different, and you don’t know what is expected of you. Those around you seem to be following a secret rule book that you do not have access to, and you are quickly falling behind! Everything you do seems to be too slow, incorrect, or missing parts.
That is how it can feel transitioning from 1:1 ABA therapy to small group learning. Our learners are rock stars 1:1 but cannot keep up with peers in this new environment. Now what?
Good ABA programs should teach social skills from an early age and prepare learners for their next environment. If they are currently receiving 1:1 ABA therapy, what is the next likely environment? For many, that includes a small group learning environment (such as a daycare/nursery, or pre-school setting), and eventually a classroom setting.
Premature social skills are one of the core deficits of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) due to limited play skills, delayed language, poor listening behaviour, narrow range of interests, and ritualistic behaviour. Keeping these target areas in mind, we make the transition from 1:1 instruction to group learning a smooth one.
What is School Readiness?
School readiness means that a learner is able to learn in a group environment. Often our learners start with 1:1 instruction, where they have full access to an attentive adult to provide instruction and teach important skills, with high quality attention and support. Although this is a great start for many learners, it is not a sustainable teaching model.
School readiness programs help bridge the gap between 1:1 ABA instruction and group learning environments such as daycare or school.
Are They Ready For School Readiness?
How will you know if a learner has the right skills for a school readiness program? There are pre-requisite skills a learner must have to be successful in a group learning environment. These include: imitation, following instructions, first/then contingency, time on task, independent play, and allowing others in their space. Read our post 6 Skills a Child Needs to be Ready to Learn in a Group to find out specific details about each of these areas.
Have you noticed that your learner is currently in a group learning environment, but is having difficulty following routines or cannot keep up with the rest of the class? They may need a school readiness program to bridge the gap in their skills.
Set Up The Environment For Success
Visuals! Not sure if you have noticed, but we love the use of visual supports for learners. If you haven’t already, check out our posts on the importance of visuals, and how to teach your students to use them.
Visuals are a great tool to promote independence and can take many forms: they can have pictures, words, or a combination of both. The amazing thing about visuals is that it benefits all students in a learning environment. Teachers can have visuals put up in their classroom for reference, or students can have them taped to their desk for easy access.
Our School Readiness Visuals break down routines into short and clear instructions which are easy for learners to follow. Be mindful that the most successful instructions are clear (learners know what is expected of them), and concise (short, simple instructions work best).
Another way to promote success with school readiness is to plan for the next environment. It is great that your learner is finding success in their 1:1 home program, or during ABA therapy in-centre, but what is next?
If possible, go visit the daycare or school and program for what skills they will need in that environment. Use that as your model and work backwards – is the expectation to sit for a circle time activity for 10 minutes? Take baseline data and determine what an appropriate starting duration would be for your learner.
In our Teaching School Readiness Skills post we talk about some programs for success in group learning environments.
These programs are perfect for more advanced learners and include skill areas such as inferencing, auditory comprehension, conversation skills, and independent activities.
Watch our YouTube video on Teaching School Readiness Skills with ABA.
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Shayna and Shira are such productive teachers! Amazing humans
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