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Meet the Hyland Family
It's another busy morning for Sarah Hyland but she couldn't be happier to have all three kids heading off to their local school together. Her son Leo and daughter Peggy are already enrolled in their local school, but it was Lizzie starting in Kindergarten this year that completed the picture. Lizzie and Peggy share a love of princesses, tutu’s and tiaras and like most twins enjoy playing together at home. The only difference is Lizzie has Down Syndrome.
Amongst a crowd of parents and kids in the playground at school drop off you can sometimes notice Lizzie's green flexible glasses or her bright pink headband (that cleverly keeps her hearing aid in place) but like other kids she loves joining in playground games and her new teacher. Whilst Sarah is proud that Lizzie is coping so well with such a big change she is clear that a lot of work and careful planning have played an importance role in getting to the first day of school.
"We got involved in early intervention when the twins were just six weeks old. From that day we have been learning how to teach Lizzie skills to be a part of her local community".
Lizzie has always followed in her siblings' foot steps, from swimming lessons at the local pool and dance with her sister. It has never been a question if Lizzie can join in but, how to help her learn while having fun.
When it came to making the transition to school Sarah planned ahead and gained support from staff at Lifestart to manage the process.
"I talked to the school about making some regular visits to Kindergarten so Lizzie could practise some of the things kids need to do in the classroom and get some experience socialising with other kids. The school were really accommodating and I was able to visit with Lizzie every Friday in the final term before school. It made such a big difference to Lizzie's confidence".
Sarah was also able to support Lizzie's teacher during those visits to get to know Lizzie and give her some tips on managing tricky situations.
"Sometimes Lizzie will refuse to comply with an instruction if she doesn't understand what people expect or doesn't want to stop playing and move onto the next activity. I showed her teacher how I manage it at home by giving her a choice and waiting and it worked! Sometimes it about sharing the tricks I have learnt through all the years of early intervention!"
Lizzie has been at Kindergarten for a few months and it all seems to be going well.
"Lizzie is really happy to get up and go to school which I think is a great sign".
Sarah is working with the Learning Support team at Lizzie's school to make sure Lizzie has the support she needs to be a part of the class.
"We have had a meeting with Lizzie's teachers and for the most part it has been a good start to the term. Sure there were a few things we talked about working on. We came up with some strategies and I've already tried one idea out. Even though it's always hard to hear people talk about the less positive things that are happening I try to be open and work with the teachers and support them. We have known Lizzie for 6 years. We realise we have to help others get to know her like we do"
Need some information about starting school? Go to - www.transitiontoschoolresource.org.au
Want to hear more about starting school from parents who have been through it with their kids? See our starting school webinar - www.oi.org.au/index.php/en/resource/item/298-transition-to-school