Ready for Primary School?


 Is Your Child Ready For Primary School?



One of the toughest questions many parents must consider is whether or not their children is ready for primary school.    Most parents will agree that Singapore Primary school curriculum and environment is rigorous.   There are a set of standards and level of achievements that need to be meet every year in order to progress to the next level.   Normally, teachers have a strict curriculum to follow and students need to perform adequately on the different tests and exams throughout the year. 

In Singapore, most primary schools have 2 major exams (SA) every second semesters and some have 2 additional exams (CA) in every semester.   Most Schools are constantly challenging their students and teachers to attain better results every year and the “ranking” of schools  (although not official) make the whole mainstream environment more challenging.   Not surprisingly, students, parents and even teachers feel pressured.  For parents of children with autism, this make the decision to enter mainstream even a tougher call to make.


He is Going To Be 7 Years Old

In Singapore when children enters Primary School at the age of 7.  However, chronological age is not always an accurate indicator of a child’s readiness for school, it should be used as a guide.   You should consider other factors such as your child’s readiness rather than his age.  Boys, in particular, are often slower in development than girls.   Children with autism, in general, are also slower in development socially, cognitively, emotionally as well as physically.

Do not make the decision in a rush or having the pressure to put your child to Primary School.   Children with autism in particular, when they encounter a program for which they are not ready, could experience failure and a rapid decrease in self-confidence and self-esteem.   This is not a good introduction to school life and  will bring negative results to his future education.


Factors to Consider:

There are a few important factors that need to consider before sending your kid to Primary School:

1. Child Readiness

2. Parents Readiness

3. School Readiness

Please refer to this simple flowchart for decision making.


Is He Ready?

Child Readiness is the first and most important factor to consider.   You should consider different aspects of how ready is he socially, cognitively, emotionally as well as physically.   You could list the the “requirements” down according to the experience you have with other siblings or other children.  A checklist of a such will be very useful in accessing whether your child is ready.   This could be a big topic by its own which a good checklist should help in the process.   I will try to come up with one and provide this in my future post.  If you have any please share with us too.


Are You Ready?

It is a difficult decision to make especially if you decide that your child is not ready to proceed to Primary School.   At this stage, you decide to go or not and therefore play a crucial part of his education life.  It is difficult for most parents to avoid feeling guilty and defeated if their child is not ready for school.  The real failure, however, would be not giving your child the extra time he needs.  The most important consideration is what is best for your child.    As a parent, you may need that extra time, an extra year, to assist your child to catch up with the development.  

On the other hand, if  you decide to proceed  him to Primary School, are you prepared to put in the extra effort and possible sacrifices to help him in the new challenges?  Are you prepared to take a step back and have considered the options if things do not turn up well in the mainstream?

So are you ready to make the call?


Is the School Ready?

Which School to enroll is a very important and special factor in deciding the suitability of your child in that particular school.    Although most of the syllabus in the mainstream Primary Schools are the same, the School itself is different.  If all the mainstream schools are not suitable, you will then need to consider the other alternatives such as special, private and international schools.

Academic reputation  – Many schools in Singapore are competitive and academic excellence and demand for students to achieve better academically is not uncommon.  You need to match your child cognitive and academic capability with the school reputation. 

Social reputation – You should that notice some schools tend to have a better environment for minimizing bullies and social issues and others tend to have a environment more socially challenging for your child.   If you are interested in a particular school, observe how the students behave before and after school.  A good social reputation will be easier for your child to adapt to the school environment. 

School Size and Class Size – Almost all the mainstream school has a large classroom size so this factor is hard to differentiate unless you are considering some private or international schools.   How many children will the classroom teacher be responsible? What is the overall student to teacher ratio? Usually, the smaller the class size, the more attention each individual student will receive. 

Safety reputation – Consider the general school environment is another factor that parents use to decide whether or not to keep their children in public school or move them into private school. Many mainstream schools have perfectly safe environments, especially those newly built or renovated schools.

Special Needs and SNOs – One important  aspect to consider for children with autism whether the school can handle children with special needs.. In Singapore, there are many mainstream schools that have special programs and teachers for these students. For many parents, they would prefer if they could get their child to a school with SNOs (Special-Needs Officers ) who are able to handle mild ASD children’s needs.  Please refer to these available school in the zones near you.

Location – Location is as important a factor as any other when considering whether to enroll your children in any school.  You’ll need to consider if the location is feasible for your family and especially your child.   Many parents prefer to put their child in nearby school so that they could reduce another risk of taking transportation.   However, if nearby school is not feasible, you should consider if it is alright to take schools transportation to and back from schools.   The distance and time to travel to and back from school could be too long for some children with autism to cope.


To Go Or Not To Go?

Do not rush into deciding to start your child in the Primary School.  Research actually shows that although some younger students do as well as their older peers, they would have fared better had they waited a year or two.   Most parents are also convinced that putting their child for another year (or repeating) at the kindergarten was  the right choice.

Another year gives the child who is not so ready for Primary School time to mature and the chance to develop in many different areas.  It also help to build up confidence and his ability to learn and succeed.   Most likely, he will find it a more positive and more enjoyable experience.   You will find that your choice is the right one too.

Therefore, remember and I will stress again:  Do what you consider best for your child.  Don’t rush or pressured into it.

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