Moving from kindergarten or early intervention is an exciting and daunting time for all children. For many children this will be the first time they have spent the whole day away from mum and dad. They will move from a small centre to a larger school environment. The class they are in may have as many as 25 students or more all wanting to make friends and interact with their teacher. The playground will be much bigger, containing play equipment, possibly designated play spaces, large open spaces and traditionally low fence lines. Classrooms will be large with many desks and curriculum equipment. Many schools are open plan, this means up to three or four classes of students could all be in the one learning space.
As a parent you need to think about what environment your child is going to need to support his/her learning needs. If your child also has a learning disability such as an Intellectual Disability(ID) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) then further considerations need to be made. A starting point would be to talk to the professionals already working with your child. What environment are they suggesting for your child and how do you feel about their recommendations? Your choices could be the local neighbourhood mainstream primary school, possibly a specialist school for children with ASD or a mix of both, this is called a dual enrolment.
Next step would be to make appointments with as many schools as you can to get a feel for what they can offer your child. You need to decide at this time whether you take your child with you to this initial visit or take them with you on a second visit. Have a list of questions to take with you so you can compare schools. Have a look at the Checklist for Primary School and Checklist for Special School for more information.
Once you have made your visits and have had your questions answered you will be more informed and able to make a decision in the best interest of your child. At this time make sure you have your paperwork organised. You may wish to consult back with the professionals currently working with your child to discuss your findings. Remember you can always arrange followup visits to the schools to ask further questions.