In Transition: Experiences of Parents of Children with Special Needs at School Entry


Pre-school children with special needs face a complex transition to school, requiring additional administrative, social and educational support. In this study, parents of 40 children with special needs reported on the transition to school experience of their 4–6-year-old child. They completed a measure of impact of the child’s disability on their family and an assessment of the quality of services experienced. Individual, semi-structured interviews contextualized these evaluations. Twenty children (pre-transition) were in preschool; 20 had already started school (post). Post-transition parents reported less average disability impact on family, generally lower perception of quality of care than pre-transition ones, and long waiting periods for school-based support. Most parents, however, reported satisfactory linkages between prior-to-school services and school. In conclusion, this study demonstrates that, despite the current climate of support for early child development, barriers for satisfactory transition to school still exist, and are largely due to low effectiveness of existing policies.

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Correspondence to Magdalena Janus.

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Janus, M., Kopechanski, L., Cameron, R. et al. In Transition: Experiences of Parents of Children with Special Needs at School Entry. Early Childhood Educ J 35, 479–485 (2008).

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  • Children with special needs
  • Transition to school
  • Quality of services
  • Linkages