In the year preceding “Big School” many parents begin to think about their child’s readiness to make the transition to primary school. They may think back to their own personal experience of starting school or compare their child to other children starting school. It is important to give this big milestone some considered thought, speak to teachers and carers who know your child, and to be informed so that you may reach the best decision regarding your child’s school readiness.
School readiness was once a checklist that early educators used to gauge the readiness of the child to cope with the expectations of school, and many of these checklists were based on academics. In the present day, school readiness is about so much more. School readiness refers to what is required to make an easy transition to primary and formal schooling. School readiness is a combination of skills, knowledge, and behaviours that ensure a child will thrive at school.
The following areas cover the skills, knowledge and behaviours that lay the foundation for an easy transition to school:
- A Love of Learning and Curiosity - Being interested in the world around them, asking questions about how things work, or why things are. Being interested in books and particular topics. Looking for answers to questions.
- Physical Health and Coordination - Whole body physical skills (such as being able to run, jump, climb and play ball) strong hands and fingers with dexterity (being able to grip a pencil, cut with scissors).
- Language Skills - Being able to talk to and listen to others, speaking clearly and being understood by other children and adults.
- Emotional Maturity and Self-Regulation - Being able to regulate and maintain emotions, attention and behaviour to socially acceptable levels. Being able to follow instructions, wait and take turns, and understand rules.
- Self-Care - Being able to care for oneself without the assistance of an adult. Dressing (do up buttons, zips clips etc.), feeding (open and manage lunchboxes, yoghurt containers, undo clingwrap etc.) and going to the toilet independently.
- Social Skills - Being able to get along with other children, able to play with others or play independently.
- Cognitive skills - Knowing some basic number skills such as counting, being able to recognise own name, have an interest in words and books.
Children develop at different rates and have their own strengths, weaknesses, temperament and interests. There are also some children who due to health, cultural upbringing, special needs or traumatic experiences, may not present with all of the skills, knowledge or behaviours described above. With dedicated support from teachers and carers these children may initially struggle but may go on to thrive at school.
If as a parent you are genuinely concerned about your child’s readiness for school, speak to your child’s current teacher, your family GP, your Paediatrician, a Speech Pathologist, an Occupational Therapist, or a Child Psychologist.
Bowman, Barbara and Moore, Evelyn ed, 2006, School Readiness and Social-Emotional Development, National Black Child Development Institute, USA
Brack, Jenny, 2004, Learn to Move, Move to Learn, APC, USA
Dockett, Sue and Perry, Bob, 2009, Readiness for School: A Relational Construct, Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, (vol34 No1), pp 20-26
Mielekamp, Rachel, 2008, Sharing our Journey – School Readiness, Five Senses Education, Australia
Pianta, Robert and Kraft-Sayre, Marcia, 2003, Successful Kindergarten Transition, Paul H Brookes Publishing, USA St. George, Jennifer and Fletcher, Richard, 2012, Father’s Role in School Readiness, Every Child, (vol18, No3), pp22-24
St. George, Jennifer and Fletcher, Richard, 2012, Father’s Role in School Readiness, Every Child, (vol18, No3), pp22-24