Mention special education, and you may raise your eyebrows.
Being a parent of a child with special needs leaves you with lots of burning questions. One of them must be how to choose the best special education school for him.
Other thoughts may weigh on your mind. Are there programs in which your child can participate? How do you decide if they are suitable for him? Special Needs Guru has some answers for you. You will benefit from our advice on preparing your child for school as well.
Special Education In Singapore: What Every Singaporean Parent Should Know.
If you are a parent of a child with special needs, you may find yourself caught in a predicament. Which schools in Singapore offer special needs education? Which one of them will cater to my young one’s unique needs? Special Needs Guru is here to answer these questions.
Special Education Schools in Singapore
There are 20 such schools, run by Voluntary Welfare Organizations (VWOs). They receive funds from the National Council of Social Services (NCSS) and the Ministry of Education (MOE). These schools tailor their programs to suit the needs of their students. Three of them cater to students with sensory impairment. Their students take the Primary School Leaving Examination at the end of their primary education and move on to secondary schools.
Five of these schools cater to children with autism and prepare students to take national exams as well. Their goal is to integrate special needs children into mainstream schools.
To facilitate inclusion, the MOE offers school-based dyslexia remediation in 42 primary schools and provides assistance to parents who have difficulties choosing the right ones for their kids.
The list of special education schools includes:
- Chaoyang School
- Delta Service School
- Katong School
- Tanglin School
- Metta School
- Grace Orchard School
- Fernvale Gardens School
- Lee Kong Chian Gardens School
- Towner Gardens School
- Woodlands Gardens School
- AWWA School
- Rainbow Center Margaret Drive
- Rainbow Center Yishun
- Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore School
- Pathlight School
- Eden School
- St Andrews Autism School
- Canossian School
- Lighthouse School
- Singapore School for the Deaf
Financial Support for Special Needs Education
Funding the education of your special needs child is a long-term process, and takes detailed consideration. As a parent, you may ask who or what will pay for his education, should you pass away. Who will administer the payment? A special needs trust deals with these worries. Many parents benefit from them because they are customizable.
To set one up, you will need someone, usually called a grantor, to draft the trust document. It entrusts property to another person, in this case, the special needs child. The grantor will typically serve as the guardian until he dies, or becomes incapacitated. The trust will have provisions for another person to administer it, in this event.
You can add virtually any property to the trust, and your family members can do so as well. The money your child receives in the case of unforeseen circumstances can be used to fund his education. One Estate Solution provides sound advice on their set up and execution.
10 Tips for Choosing the Best Special Education School for Your Child
With a variety of special education schools for Singaporean parents to choose from, they may find it a challenge to decide on those that suit their children. When picking a school out for your young one, bear these considerations in mind.
1. Learning Style
Your child’s preferred learning methods should be at the top of your mind. Consider whether he is an auditory, visual or tactile learner. Alternatively, he may enjoy learning in all his senses. Once you have established how he learns best, proceed to find a school whose teachers are flexible enough to teach in this way.
2. Support Services
Support services vary from one school to another. Make inquiries regarding funding for classroom aids and services such as occupational therapy, speech therapy, and physiotherapy. Ask all the questions necessary, as principals run schools in different ways.
3. Distance and Transport
You will obviously want to pick a school which will help your child achieve his learning goals. Long commute time and a lack of transportation, however, may make it a less than ideal choice.
4. Social Skills
Also, ponder over whether your child is extremely social or quiet. Would he benefit from a smaller class size or a larger one? Would he need a teaching assistant? Does he prefer being alone? These questions will affect your choice. You would want to choose a school with a smaller class size if your child prefers not to socialize, and vice versa.
5. Class Sizes and Teachers
When choosing a school, consider how big its classes are. Special education classes are typically smaller; a class of 12 children should have one teacher and an assistant. The teachers should be versatile with their teaching methods and be open to your feedback.
6. The Curriculum
Ideally, the curriculum should be play-based and support your child developmentally. It should instill the love of learning in him.
7. The Principal
Principals are responsible for implementation of the education plans for the school. Those running special education schools may not have formal training in special education; find out if he has taken courses in the subject. He should thoroughly understand the needs of special needs children, parents, and teachers.
8. The School Environment
Special education schools often advocate inclusion. Find out if the school you are considering puts this into practice. It should provide access to its classrooms and the curriculum. It should also have a wide variety of instructional materials. Further, the school should regularly organize projects to promote the inclusion of special needs children in a mainstream environment.
You will be leaving your child at the school for a large part of the day; find out if its communication lines are open. The teachers should ask you for input and be open to information from you.
10. Trust Your Instincts
Lastly, it is important to trust your instincts. Go with what your gut is telling you. Your child should be coming home from school happy; that is a top sign that the school you have chosen for him is the best one.
What You Can Do to Help Your Special Needs Child Adjust to School
A new school year means a new start and loads of excitement for a child. But it can be overwhelming for your young one, especially if he is going to school for the first time. How do you ease his transition into the classroom?
First of all, give your child a headstart by familiarizing yourself with class rules, routines, and the school’s curriculum. Get to understand the teacher’s expectations, and communicate them to your young one.
Give the teacher a headstart as well. Tell her about your child’s educational challenges. Set goals so that both of you can help your child during the year. Consult her about using tools to stimulate his senses.
Set routines so that your child will not experience an information overload. Establish a structure so that he has time to acclimatize to new surroundings and routines. Give him a head start in academic learning, so that it will not be a shock.
Also, take a tour of the school with your child. Find out where the lunch room, gym, library and therapy rooms are so that he will become familiar with them.
Get your child familiar with the games the other kids play in the playground. Doing this will ease his social interactions. Find out who will be in his classes so that he will become comfortable with them.
Your child may take more time than most to prepare for school, so help him to get ready. Pack his school books and bag the night before and free yourselves of unnecessary morning headaches.
Choosing a suitable school for your child and helping him adjust to it are critical in promoting his love for learning.