What is school readiness?

Is your child ready to start school? School readiness is the term we use to describe whether a child is ready to make the transition from home, day care or kindergarten into school.

I know – most parents immediately start thinking, ‘my child can count to 10′ or ‘my child can write their name and knows all their colours’.

While these academic skills are important in determining school readiness, they are not everything a child needs to be considered ready.

What skills does my child need?

To be considered ready to start school, in addition to academic skills, a child needs to have developed skills in:

  • Self-care (going to the toilet independently, opening their own lunchbox or unwrapping their sandwich)
  • Attention and concentration (sitting and listening for appropriate lengths of time, following directions)
  • Physical strength and endurance (being able to sit up in a chair for the whole school day)
  • Emotional regulation (being able to perceive the emotions of others and respond appropriately, understand and regulate their own emotions)
  • Language (being able to comprehend what is spoken to them, and respond in a way that can be understood by their teacher and peers)
  • Appropriate play and social skills (interact with others appropriately, display the ability to compromise and follow social norms)
Why is school readiness such a big deal?

School readiness sets a child up for a positive school life. Children who are not school ready when they begin schooling may:

  • Dislike school or learning for life
  • Develop anxiety around attending school or learning
  • Have poor academic outcomes as they are constantly behind their peers
  • Face peer rejection or isolation if they are not socially ready for school
  • Have trouble following instructions from people of authority other than their own parents (i.e. Teachers, counsellors, etc.)
What are some signs that my child isn’t ready?

Some signs that your child may not be ready for school yet include:

  • Not being toilet trained (daytime)
  • Struggling to follow directions with day to day tasks (pick your toys up from the floor, come and sit at the table for dinner, etc.)
  • Not being interested in sitting and listening to a story or looking at books
  • Getting easily frustrated when they are under minimal pressure (i.e. following basic directions, not being able to complete a task)
  • Not interacting well with children of their own age
  • Social immaturity (not wanting to share, take turns, adjust to a shift in rules of a game or activity)
  • Poor language skills (not being able to understand others, or be understood by people other than parents and immediate family members)
What can I do to improve my child’s school readiness?

Your child isn’t quite ready to start school – what now? There are several things you can do to improve school readiness. These include:

  • Arrange regular play dates with a variety of different children of a similar age to your child – this will allow your child to develop their social skills.
  • Play board games – think about all the sharing, turn taking, waiting and coping with winning or losing that your child will have to adjust to
  • Read to your child – choose a variety of different books (fiction, non-fiction, a variety of topics)
  • Sing songs with your child
  • Give your child the opportunity to do more for themselves – let them pick out their clothes for the day and dress themselves, prepare their own bath (with supervision), set the table for dinner
  • Talk to your child – children learn by example. The more that you talk to them, about varying topics and concepts, the more they will learn.

Talk about feelings with your child – this can be a simple as ‘you’re laughing because you are happy’ or ‘the lady on tv is crying because she is sad’. Use every opportunity to discuss emotions.

If you are concerned about your child being ready for school, or just have more questions, you can CONTACT US to arrange an appointment with one of our experienced paediatricians.