Transition. Going from here to there. Making changes.

It’s what everyone does all the time. As an educator, it’s something you think about a lot. How are you going to help your students make progress? How are you going to help them make the transitions they need to make in their lives?

The word “transition” takes on additional meaning when you are working with children who have disabilities. The Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates that Transition Planning and Services are a part of the education of all students with disabilities. What is the goal of these services? To help students move toward an adult life of learning, meaningful work, friends and a role in the community …in other words, what you want for all your students.

Maryland Learning Links offers a broad overview of Transition Planning and Services and it is filled with real-world practical information, suggested student timelines and useful tools like our K-12 Career Explorer Tool. You will also find a wealth of other online resources so you can connect with additional information beyond this site.

Some of the big ideas presented here include:

Transition is more than getting a job after high school – Transition planning is meant to ultimately help many students get jobs, but it is also about helping students prepare for and select postsecondary education and training … and to improve their personal, social and daily living skills—key elements of adulthood.

Every aspect of the transition planning process should be built around the student’s strengths and interests – Transition is different for every single student, so Transition Planning and Services must be tailored to the student’s particular goals for employment, postsecondary education and training, etc.

Transition is all about teamwork – Transition planning is most successful when it is a team effort. The team generally includes the student and his family; the student’s teachers and other school staff; medical personnel and therapists; and other professionals who are providing the student with services now or may provide services in the future. Engaging the student and his family early and often in the team process is a key task for educators.

The importance of self-determination and self-advocacy – When students know what they need, can share that information with others and are able to act on their own behalf, they are more likely to have a successful transition to adulthood. Planning for students’ transitions to adulthood can begin as early as kindergarten. Explore the Transition Timelines for suggestions of ways you and your school can support your students’ successful transitions. And remember that when it comes to transition planning, the earlier the better.


For a comprehensive list of activities that you can do with elementary and/or middle school children to help them prepare for transition, use our K-12 Career Explorer Tool.


Maryland Transitioning Youth is a State website designed to help families and caregivers of children with disabilities find information about transition planning, postsecondary education and employment services. Check it out!