With a new school year approaching, parents Australia-wide will be struggling with the decision of whether their child is ready for school. These tips and signs of school readiness will help you decide.
Sending your child off to school — in a class of 25 other children surrounded by big buildings, big kids and expecatations of maturity — can be an overwhelming time for both children and parents alike. Trying to decide if your child is ready to face the challenge, and the best year for them to start school, can be a confusing and emotional time.
Although age guidelines dictating when a child must start school vary slightly from state to state depending on your child’s birth date, children can start school from the age of four years right up until the year they turn six, which can leave you with the overwhelming problem of what start date is best for your child.
School readiness is dependent on the individual child — no two children will develop exactly the same way. This will depend greatly on emotional maturity, social maturity, physical maturity and some essential skills thrown into the mix.
While your child may not tick every single box, as very few school starters do, there are some things that will make it easier for them to succeed in the school environment.
Is your child prepared for independence?
To do well in the school environment, your child will need to have a degree of self-care. Things like being completely toilet-trained and being able to wipe themselves, flush and wash their hands are important for toileting independence. For boys, understanding how to use the urinal, and for both boys and girls, understanding how to lock and unlock the door from the inside are important independent tasks also.
Other factors include skills such as being able to do buttons, tie shoelaces (or use velcro shoes), wipe their own nose, open drinks or food packages, unpack their lunch and pack up their schoolbag after lunch.
Is your child emotionally and socially mature?
Coping with separation from family can be a big deal to a young child, but it’s not all just about whether your child is okay to leave your side and head off to the classroom, there’s also the consideration of how they interact with their peers.
Is your child able to share with other children and understand the need to wait their turn? Can they vocalise their needs and concerns? Are they able to understand and follow at least three-step instructions? Being able to sit still and listen, behave and respect their teacher and sit reasonably quietly when required are all important also.
Some other things to be prepared for
While your child does not need to know how to read or write before starting school, it is helpful if they can recognise their own name. Having exposure to using a pencil and crayons and being on their way to using correct writing grip is a great start also. Another great preparation is to give your child exposure to using safety scissors to help develop their fine motor skills and help them dive right into tasks that will be expected of them without feeling overwhelmed.