Supporting smooth and inclusive transitions from preschool to primary school

SMILE for Children
Bridge of Hope
Country of Implementation
CIS and Associated States
Yerevan, Tavush Marz
Start Year
First published

For teachers SMILE offers capacity-building training on Inclusive Education and mentoring visits to assistance. Also the parents are supported to encourage them to actively participate in their children's education. Furthermore, the programme also promotes cooperation between teachers and parents.

Two children are playing with colorful cubes in front of a toy shelf in Kindergarden in the Berd region.
Inclusive preschool education at work in a kindergarden in the Berd region.

Solution details


Susanna TADEVOSYAN Website
“My son now has a positive relationship with teachers and classmates, and he feels positive about himself as a learner.” Mother of a 6-year-old boy

Bridge of Hope is an Armenian NGO supporting rights and inclusion for young people with disabilities in the Yerevan and Tavush provinces of Armenia. Bridge of Hope’s SMILE for Children programme creates an inclusive learning environment and facilitates a smooth transition from preschool to primary school for children with disabilities. The programme includes the training of kindergarten teachers in inclusive learning methods and educating parents on the benefits of inclusion. As of 2019, 145 children with disabilities have been supported across 23 kindergartens.

Problems Targeted

Poor inclusion and a difficult transition from preschool to primary school can have long-term effects on the inclusion and participation of children with disabilities.

Solution, Innovation and Impact

SMILE for Children follows a multi-method approach to increase inclusion in preschool and to ensure that children with disabilities, their parents, and their teachers all experience a smooth transition to primary school. It offers capacity-building training for teachers on Inclusive Education, including child-centred teaching and how to develop a supportive learning environment. It also includes monthly mentoring visits to support the implementation of the new practices. All parents are educated about the benefits of inclusion, and parents of children with disabilities are supported to be active participants in their children’s education. Furthermore, SMILE encourages close and transparent cooperation between teachers and parents. Seven kindergartens and seven primary schools in Yerevan province and 16 kindergartens and 21 primary schools in Tavush province have been supported. In addition, four case studies were conducted, which showed improved enthusiasm among parents and embracement of the inclusive practices by teachers.

Funding, Outlook and Transferability

At the local level, the organization aims to support all kindergartens in Tavush province, and to support the chair of Preschool Education at the Pedagogical University in Yerevan to incorporate inclusive pedagogy and school-to-school transition in all the university’s preschool courses. Bridge of Hope has also developed a “Guide to Support Smooth Transition from Preschool Institutions to Primary School,” which can assist in its replication in other regions. Project costs between 2016 and 2019 totalled €283,000, with €213,000 coming from the Open Society Foundation and the remaining covered by Bridge of Hope.



Two children are playing with colorful cubes in front of a toy shelf in Kindergarden in the Berd region. Inclusive preschool education at work in a kindergarden in the Berd region.



Life Story


“A smooth transition to school, without stress and fear, is the most important achievement for Gor.”

My name is Arev Mezhlumyan, and I am the mother of 6-year-old Gor Balasyan. We live in the village of Achajur, in the Tavush province of Armenia. From the age of 4, Gor has been attending Achajur kindergarten. At the beginning, it was hard to break the existing stereotypes in our community and especially among kindergarten teachers regarding people with disabilities. But due to my close cooperation with teachers and my readiness to support my son, and also due to the series of trainings organized by Bridge of Hope, the attitude and behaviour of the teachers has changed. They are not afraid to teach in groups that include children with diverse learning and development needs. Now my son is equally participating in group activities. Trainings and peer support meetings organized for parents has helped us to learn tools for positive parenting, and a series of joint activities were organized between the kindergarten and the school prior to the new school year. I did not have high expectations, but to my surprise, Gor is actively involved and included in classroom activities and discussions. He has positive relationships with teachers and classmates and feels positive about himself as a learner.

Related information


Solutions with the same:

Country of Implementation


Region of Implementation


City of Implementation

Yerevan, Tavush Marz