Headstart for Life

How to know if your child is ready for Primary 1?

Hi there! Welcome back to Headstart for Life’s blog, Beyond Therapy!

The 2018 P1 registration exercise is coming up soon. Many parents would have already decided which school they want their child to enter even before they were born. Some parents want their child in the school they would have studied and some would have relocated to be within the 1 km radius of the school of their choice or volunteered their time in the desired school to secure a spot according to the qualifying criteria in each of the phases.

While distance and parent participation are the only pre-requisites for entering Primary 1 in a mainstream school, there are no entrance tests or assessments to determine if the child is mentally ready for for the transition to a bigger environment with challenging demands. One can argue that this may not be fair given our compulsory education act. However, when a child has  developmental delays that may not be physically obvious or undetected at an early age, it can pose detrimental to the academic progress of the child. Lack of confidence, low self-esteem, task avoidance, disruptive behaviours, bullying or being bullied and depression are some of the symptomatic consequences of placing the child in an environment that is not suitable for him or her.

There are many things to consider whether your child will be able to adapt in a mainstream education environment.

Developmental milestones


Be sure to educate yourself on the milestones for the corresponding ages. The main areas to focus on are Communication, Language, Motor Skills, Cognitive and Social Interaction. Make sure your child is able to hit most of the milestones targeted for each phase, given plus or minus 6 months. For example, by age 4, the child should be able to follow instructions of 2 to 3 steps, engages in imaginative play, walks up and down stairs without assistance and able to eat independently. If you find your child lagging severely behind, seek proper advice immediately.

Feedback from kindergarten teachers



Establish effective communication with your child’s teachers from K1.  Check his/her progress in the classroom occasionally apart from the termly report cards. Keep track of concerns from the teacher  that’s not common with children their age. Especially if the child is not able to write their name,  participate in a group activity, needs constant assistance in following daily routines.

Special school vs Mainstream school



While there are no assessments done for entering mainstream school, admission to a special school needs to be recommended by a paediatrician or child psychologist. If there are any developmental delays,  they would have identified the red flags during growth and with further examinations and feedback from other professionals further validates their recommendation. As such, parents should consider to let the child enter a special school that is best suited for them. It will help the child cope in an environment that is less challenging and most importantly have teachers who are trained to address their individual needs and have deeper understanding of their weaknesses, which may otherwise not be available in the mainstream setting.

Private Intervention



Some children may have mild difficulties which can be remediated through intervention. For example, children who have speech and language concerns can overcome them given apt strategies and tools. The consistent support will enable them to manage themselves hence empowering them to be independent learners. Therefore parents need to consider how much of a support the child needs and whether it is sufficient for them to function in a larger environment.

All children learn differently. Some may benefit and strive in a mainstream school environment but others may not. It is imperative for parents to know all options for their child’s schooling. It is never an easy feat to decide whether your child is ready for P1 but remember, professionals and other parents, are there to help you out.

"All the information on this site is for educational purposes only and does not replace the assessment and intervention of a registered speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist or any other medical or education professional."

About Usha

Usha has been working with children with special needs for 3 years. She has great passion in integrating children with special needs into the community. In her free time, she likes to cycle along the coasts of Singapore exploring nature.

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