Help extended to keep up gains at Primary 1

A four-year-old programme to help underprivileged children in pre-schools level up has reaped benefits, and is now being extended to ensure that the beneficiaries transition smoothly into Primary 1.

The Circle of Care (CoC) programme, involving 140 children at 10 pre-schools, has social workers and educational therapists working alongside pre-school teachers.

They identify the causes of a child's difficulties and provide help on different fronts.

The scheme, piloted by philanthropic group Lien Foundation and welfare organisation Care Corner, has led to higher rates of school attendance and learning gains among the at-risk children receiving help.

Now, to ensure that the gains do not fade out, the pre-school teachers and social workers, who worked with the children, will collaborate with primary school teachers and counsellors to continue supporting them until they reach Primary 3.

CoC programme manager Lynn Heng said 39 of the 140 children receiving help under the programme are heading to Primary 1 next year.

All the children have progress reports prepared by the pre-school teachers, educational therapists and social workers, which will be shared with the primary schools they are heading to.

Besides detailing the gains that they made in literacy and numeracy skills, it also gives information on other skills that are important for learning, such as their ability to pay attention.

The report, prepared with the children's parents, also gives information on how the parents can be helped to support their child's learning at home.

At two primary schools, Lakeside Primary and Gan Eng Seng Primary, which are receiving 12 of the children next year, the collaboration will be more structured and deeper.

CoC teachers and social workers have already been meeting the teachers and school heads of the two schools since September to share information on the children and look at how various kinds of support can be given to them and their families.

Said Mrs Heng: "Some of them come from difficult home circumstances, it is important that there are various kinds of support in place to enable the family to help the child.

"I have seen some children make good progress in pre-school, only to slide back when they enter Primary 1."

Madam Khafifah, 46, a single mum whose daughter is on the CoC programme, is glad she got to meet the school teacher and principal of Gan Eng Seng Primary last week.

"As a hawker assistant, I don't make much and I work until 9pm every night.

"So, I was glad to hear about all the financial help I can get. The books alone add up to a lot.

"I am also happy that my daughter can go to the student care centre after school hours."

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