Preschooler Parent’s Guide to Educational Pathways : Part I

Preschooler Parent’s Guide to Educational Pathways : Part I Photo Credits: Sally Kwek

Introduction to Special Education

Special education is instruction that is individually and specially designed to meet your child’s unique needs. This may include the instructional...

...methodology he or she learns in the classroom, the way he learns at home and at other institutions like the hospital or school. It may also include the way learning is tailored for him in higher institutions like vocational training schools. All students under the Special Education have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

In Singapore, education for students (school‐age) with disabilities are provided in the special education schools (SPED). Students are eligible for Special Education once they are of school‐going age i.e. 7 years or Primary 1, whichever is earlier. SPED schools in Singapore are supported and funded by the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the National Council of Social Service (NCSS). It is considered to be under public education and free for children who are Singapore citizens. Different SPED schools cater to children with different needs.

Step 1 - Identification

You may have suspected that your child has been struggling with areas of development or learning. Your child’s teachers may have also feedback specific domains and may have recommended that you follow up with these concerns. Your child may also have underlying medical condition (eg. epilepsy) and you wonder if this will affect his or her learning in future. Some of these concerns are: ­ Not speaking as well as he or she should be compared to his age or his friends

  • ­Not socializing nicely or difficulties making friends
  • Not learning as fast as he or she should be
  • Not sure if he or she is hearing or seeing properly
  • Clumsy and not as coordinated as he or she should be
  • Often angry easily, or excessively shy

In such cases, your choices of follow up can be these:

  • ­Wait and monitor
  • Speak to your paediatrician
  • Highlight your concerns to the doctors in the polyclinic who will refer your child to KKH or NUH for specialist follow‐up
  • Highlight to your primary doctor in the hospital managing his or her condition who can refer to the psychologist within the hospital when needed
  • Seek a private psychologist who has the necessary qualifications and experience to guide you

It is recommended that when a follow‐up by a psychologist is necessary, the child is best assessed at around 5 years 6 months or the mid‐year of his K2 year, whichever is earlier. This will allow the psychologist, yourself, your child and his team of educators to put in place the necessary supports to facilitate application for SPED schools or interventions to support your child prior to beginning his formal education year i.e. Primary 1. As such, you may want to speak to your doctor earlier to avoid a long wait‐time for an educational psychologist evaluation.

PART II will follow next week, clarifying the process of an educational psychologist’s evaluation.

Jessie Ooh

Jessie is a registered psychologist in the Singapore Registrar of Psychologists, a full member (International affiliate) of the American Psychological Association and a member of APA’s Society of School Psychology (Division 16) and Paediatric Psychology (Division 54). She currently serves as a board member in the Special Education Network In Asia: Singapore (SENIA‐Singapore) as the Community Liaison. 
She can be reached at

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Credit: A video by Channel 5

Credit: A video by Trixie Chua & Celine Kim for Special Seeds Singapore.

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