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Transitioning to Primary School


Transitioning to primary school marks a significant milestone in your child’s life, and it can be an exciting yet scary experience for you and your child.

As children transition into Primary School, they will face changes such as having to adapt to a new environment, follow timetables, build new friendships and adhering to school rules (Ministry of Education, 2021). Children diagnosed with special needs might find this transition even more challenging, but preparing your child to navigate these challenges during transition can prove to be an exciting and enjoyable period for them (Lim et al., 2021).


Familiarising them with the new environment

Keep a lookout for the school’s open house date and bring your child down to explore and familiarise themselves with the environment. You can explore the different places and facilities with your child and get them to share with you about their favourite place in the school. Alternatively, you can show them pictures or go onto the school website together to explore more about the school environment.


Discussing new routines

Creating a visual schedule for your child to show him/her how a typical school day may look would help let them know what to expect on a daily basis and to settle into the new routine. It can look something like this.



Introducing important self-help skills

Provide your child with opportunities to develop their skills needed for Primary School. This would include dressing themselves independently, putting on and removing their shoes, organising and packing their bags, as well as choosing food and paying money during recess. You can also role-play with your child to teach them how to buy food from the stall (what to say, how to count the money to pass to the stallholders, what to do after getting their food).


Communicating with the Primary School

There are support groups provided by the school for children with special needs, such as Special Education Needs (SEN) officers, and the TRANsition Support for InTegration (TRANSIT) programme (Ministry of Environment, 2023). You may visit https://www.moe.gov.sg/special-educational-needs/school-support/primary-schools to find out more. It would be good to speak to your child’s teacher to share a little more about your child and discuss possible support available for him/ her in the Primary School.


Provide reassurance

Talk to your child about how they feel starting at a new school. Acknowledge and assure them that their feelings are valid. You can also share with them your experience of when you entered a new school (eg. I remember the night before I started primary school, I felt so afraid and could not sleep at night! However, my friends and teachers were nice and I looked forward to school the next day). You can also show them videos or read storybooks to prepare them for their new journey.


Videos:

Books:

Written by: Mary-Anne


References:

Lim, S. M., Nyoman, L., Tan, Y. J., & Yin, Y. Y. (2021). Transition practice before entering primary school: A longitudinal study of children with and without special needs across a year. Hong Kong Journal of Occupational Therapy, 34(2), 63–72. https://doi.org/10.1177/15691861211013427


Ministry of Education. (2021, June 5). Transition from preschool to primary school. https://www.moe.gov.sg/primary/p1-registration/transition-to-primary


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Adam Stephens
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