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Accessible Transition to Kindergarten

Currently, there are no AODA education standards. However, two AODA standards development committees have drafted recommendations of guidelines that AODA education standards should include. One committee has recommended guidelines for the kindergarten to grade twelve (K-12) education system. In contrast, the other committee has recommended guidelines for the university and college education system. In addition, some members from both committees have joined to form the Education Technical Sub-Committee. This Sub-Committee recommends guidelines to prevent and remove barriers students face during transitions. Transitions include beginning school, between elementary school and high school, and from high school to work, community life, or postsecondary education. In this article, we outline the Sub-Committee’s recommendations for accessible transition to Kindergarten.

Accessible Transition to Kindergarten

Before they start school, some young children with disabilities receive early intervention services, such as:

  • Occupational therapy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Augmentative and alternative communication
  • Speech-language services
  • Psychological assessments and services
  • Early intervention programs or services for children who:
    • Are blind or visually impaired
    • Are deaf or hard of hearing
    • Have learning disabilities
    • Have physical disabilities
    • Are autistic

However, when children begin Kindergarten, they should receive many of these services through their schools or school boards. Therefore, the Sub-Committee recommends that each school board creates and implements transition practices and processes, so that children can transfer smoothly from their early intervention programs to their school boards’ services. For instance, service providers from early intervention programs could meet with school board service providers to discuss children’s progress. Furthermore, school boards should base these practices and processes on evidence. Moreover, the Ministry of Education should ensure that school boards across the province have consistent transition practices and processes.

In addition, students with disabilities beginning Kindergarten should attend the same school as their siblings. However, some students with disabilities do not attend their neighbourhood schools. Instead, they may attend other schools with modified programs or more accessibility features. Nonetheless, families may wish their children with and without disabilities to go to the same school. Therefore, if a student with a disability attends a non-neighbourhood school, their family should have the option of enrolling non-disabled siblings at the same school. In contrast, the family does not have this option for schools that only serve students with certain disabilities. For example, if a student attends a school for children with learning disabilities, their siblings cannot attend this school with them.