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Transitions: at 3 Years and at 6 Years

There is no one like your child – a new and unique being

Every child's development is unique and complex. By the time your child reaches the 3rd birthday you will experience your child as unique with a personality and temperament all of his/her own. She may be quiet and observant, highly energetic and exploring, shy yet communicative or friendly and independent.

This is the age when your child is ready for interaction with peers and other adults besides the immediate family. Now is when you can start exploring the play and pre-schools near your home.

Your three year old:

  • Learns using all the senses (vision, hearing, touching, mouthing, smelling) by exploring objects and the environment while playing

  • Now knows lots of new words, improves pronunciation and communicates in simple sentences

  • Can listen to and understand conversations, stories, songs and poems

  • Can put together simple puzzles and understand that a whole object can be separated into parts – he/she is developing logical reasoning skills during play

  • Is now able to classify and sort objects by size, colour or shape

  • Is starting to identify and describe objects that are the “same” or “different” and can count up to “five”

  • Can ride a tricycle or pump a swing; can catch a large ball using two hands and the body and undress without help

  • Emotionally, is learning to recognize feelings and will give a hug to you if you are upset

  • Loves to sing favourite songs, play with rhythm instruments and use real objects and costumes in pretend play

  • Loves imitating you – stepping into your sandals, sweeping, washing clothes or cooking just like you!

A safe, hygienic, child-centred and family-friendly neighbourhood school will enhance and build upon your child’s skills through an activity and play based preschool programme.

A comprehensive first aid and emergency medical protocol, understood and internalized by every teacher should be in place. If your child is on any regular medicine regimen (e.g. antiepileptics) or needs routine monitoring – for example-of blood sugar levels due to juvenile diabetes, then this can be discussed with the school nurse or teacher in charge and a system for the same be set up for the time your child attends the school.

If your child needs a special seating or standing aid then this can be discussed and provided to the school so that your child is positioned in the most appropriate way to allow her/him participate in all the regular school activities.

The preschool years- 3-6 years – are a powerful time of learning and foundational skills development for your child.

You can discuss the core curriculum and the belief systems of the play/preschool and confirm that the following are included in the schools activity-based learning curriculum:

  • Colour, shape and size concepts

  • Numbers, counting and pre-math language

  • Letter shapes, recognition the sounds they make and phonics

  • Music, stories, rhymes and performing arts

  • Drawing, cutting and rich art and crafts

  • Pre-writing and letter tracing

  • Life skills

  • Fine and visual motor skills

  • Love of nature and fine arts

  • Outdoor activities, free play and creative expression

Another major transition happens at the age of 5-6 years when your child is ready to begin a regular KG to class 12 school.

At this time it is crucial to identify a school that will include you as an essential member of your child’s learning support team.

  1. Get information about schools in your area. You can do this by talking to other parents and looking at websites

  2. Read about the relevant laws and child rights policies in India. This can guide you in choosing a school while advocating for your child’s educational rights.

Choose a school where:

 

1. Your child is made to feel welcome

2. Your child’s teachers are knowledgeable about special educational needs

3. Teachers are willing to learn about your child’s particular needs

If your child has educational needs then he/she will make a successful start in school if thoughtful planning and preparation is in place. Questions such as the following are important.

 

  1. Will the school have a place for my child?

2. How will the school support my child?

3. As a parent, how can I help the school to support my child?

4. How will my child be included in school/class activities with other children?

5. My child needs medication during school hours, how will this be managed?

6. Is there a specific person in the school with whom I can communicate?

7. What about transport?

Once your child is admitted in a school, you can start planning for his/her first day at the school.

 

The planning meeting should include you, the school principal, the class teacher and any other professionals who have been involved with your child before he/she starts school.

At this planning meeting, you can let the school know about your expectations for your child’s education and fears your child has about starting school.

This information can also help the school decide if school policies need to be developed or revised around caring for a child with special educational needs or medical needs, e.g. administration of medications policy.

As appropriate, a support plan may include information on your child’s needs as follows:

  • Learning, social and communication needs

  • Care needs like dressing, toileting, mobility and medication

  • Sensory needs such as over sensitivity to noise, textures, lights

  • Physical needs that require environmental adaptations such as adaptations to the school building, adapted seating or other specialised equipment

As a parent, you can help the school to plan by:

  • Sharing your own knowledge and experience of your child’s strengths, abilities and difficulties, and what works best in helping your child to learn

  • This can be useful to the staff in the new school to help them plan for your child

Prepare for Change

It takes time to prepare for change. You will need time to prepare your child for the school you have chosen; to prepare yourselves as parents to let your child become more independent; to allow time for any adaptations that have to be made to the school building, or other supports to be in place.

 

Many children have fears about starting school. It may be that he/she is worried about making friends; managing in the playground; managing the toilet; keeping up in a big school or worried that their teacher may not understand or get angry if they are not able to understand or follow instructions.

You can support your child by talking about starting school, listening to his/her worries and answering questions. You can meet some other children who will be starting school on the same day. You can walk or drive to the school to let your child know that it will be their ‘big’ school. You can make him/ her become as independent as possible before he/ she starts school. For example if the school has a uniform, you can get it so that your child gets to know how it looks, the textures of the material and so on. You can practice listening to and following instructions at home.

Preparation can help your child make an easy transition into and a successful start in school.