Back to School After the NICU



It’s Back to School and time to be thinking about education. Whether you’re considering preschool, your NICU graduate is in the classroom, or you’re sending big brothers and sisters back to school while your baby is still in the NICU, we guarantee you’ll find resources here to make the school day – and the school year – better! You will:

  • Hear from other parents.
  • Learn about useful resources.
  • Get the information you need.
  • Become a powerful advocate for your student!

Are we ready for school?

Transitioning from Early Intervention to Preschool Programs for Children with Disabilities (PPCD)

Many NICU graduates qualify for services from their state’s Early Intervention program. Once they turn three some children are eligible for the Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities, otherwise known as PPCD. If your little one has been receiving services through ECI they will almost always be referred for PPCD.

How to Know If You Child is Ready for Kindergarten

As NICU parents we often worry whether or not our child is measuring up to their typically-developing peers. How do you know if your child is ready for the classroom? When you look at some of the things kindergarteners are expected to be able to do, it’s hard to imagine ANY 5 year old being able master these skills! It’s important to remember that every child has their own unique strengths and weaknesses. Instead of asking yourself if your child is ready for school, ask “Is the school ready for my child?” Whether or not a student can sit still through story time is less important than whether or not they have a teacher who is enthusiastic and a school that welcomes them.

Most kids benefit from a little extra support at school. If you suspect your child has a learning delay or disability, ask for help. You can request a free comprehensive educational evaluation any time before or during the school year.

Hear from Other Families

What do we need to succeed?

You are the most important person in your child’s life – and their best advocate. Even if you feel a little nervous and unprepared for sending your child to school, remember that  being a NICU parent has given you all the skills you’ll need for supporting your child. But you don’t have to do it alone!

 Pinterest IconWant to learn more about these topics? Visit Hand to Hold’s Pinterest board Education Ideas Worth Sharing.

A Team

There are people who can help. Think about all the people and providers who know your child and what they might need at school. This includes teachers, speech therapists, occupational therapists, special educators, and – if your child has medical needs that need to be met at school – the school nurse. They will be your team. All of you will work together to build a plan for school success.

Inclusive Brother & Sister


A Plan

Whether or not your child has a Special Education IEP, a 504 Plan, or other accommodations at school, it’s a good idea for everyone who works with your child to understand what they need. If your child had an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) through Early Intervention this is a good place to start. Your IFSP can be the basis for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). As the school year progresses keep everyone aware of your child’s changing needs and be prepared to advocate if you think your child needs more support.

Good Communication

No matter what your child needs, the key to school success is good communication between school and home. What happens in one environment affects the other.  Set goals together. Let your team know what your goals and priorities are at home so that they can support them. Then ask what you can do to support their goals at school.

Hear from Other Families

Erika Goyer is the mother of three boys and Education Director with Hand to Hold. Her oldest son Carrick Michael was born at 27 weeks gestation and weighed 1 pound, 14 ounces. Carrick died soon after his birth due to complications of prematurity. Erika went on to have two more high-risk pregnancies and two healthy sons.

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