When do I start the “transition” to preschool process for my two year old child?

Planning for the “transition” to preschool begins as early as nine months prior to your child’s third birthday. If you are actively working with your county’s Early Intervention program and have an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), your Service Coordinator will assist you with this process by coordinating meetings with your local school district to evaluate your child for preschool special education services. There are strict timelines to this process and your Service Coordinator will lead parents/caregivers through this collaboration.

If your two year old child does NOT have an IFSP through your local county Early Intervention services, then parents/guardians will need to make a formal request to their local school district to evaluate the child for preschool special education services. Ideally, this request should be made in writing approximately 3-4 months prior to your child’s third birthday. However, a request can be made at any time and at any age after a child turns three years old.

Your CSC early intervention specialist and case manager can also participate in this preparation process to make a successful transition to preschool services for your child. We can attend school meetings and provide case management services even beyond the third birthday.

For parents who choose for their child to attend a private preschool program, enrollment and registration for these programs often occur in January-March of the year PRIOR to your preschooler actually starting when the school year begins in late August. Most private preschools require children to be fully toilet-trained. If your child qualifies for special education preschool services through your local school district, however, your child will not be required to be toilet trained prior to enrollment.

Why is preschool important?

Preschool is an opportunity for 3-5 year old children to develop their social/emotional skills and gain more independence. A quality preschool program will better prepare your child for transition into kindergarten. Your child will develop essential pre-reading, pre-writing, vocabulary, and basic math skills necessary to be ready for kindergarten. Additionally, for a child with a visual impairment or blindness, preschool is where they will begin to receive their IEP services. The child may work with a Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI), a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS), and other support staff identified in your child’s IEP. An effective preschool program will engage your child using all of his or her senses which is critical for a child with low vision or blindness

Where will my blind/vision impaired child attend preschool?

There are a few options for your child once he/she turns three years old. It is the responsibility of the school district where you reside to evaluate and identify your child as having a visual impairment or blindness. If the school district qualifies your child for an IEP, your child would attend the public preschool in your district. However, you may give up your rights to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and elect to send your child to a private preschool at your expense. Some families have elected to have their child attend both public preschool and pay for specialized programs. On rare occasions, public school districts will pay for private or specialized preschool programs if they believe they can’t offer your child a FAPE.

Cleveland Sight Center offers a specialized, integrated preschool option that emphasizes skill development in necessary areas for children who are blind or vision impaired. The decision to attend this program is made during the IEP meeting and must be supported by the public school district of residence.

For more information on Bright Futures Preschool, click here.