Like attracts like, right?
As a teacher, I am surrounded by teachers. Many of my friends are teacher-y types.
My sister-in-law and two besties work in Early Childhood settings.
We frequently discuss the topic of school readiness. (This makes us sound like seriously boring people. But, really, you want us at your dinner parties. I swear you do.) On occasions, I’ve presented talks on school readiness at their centres.
“Is my child ready for school?” can be a highly emotive, complex question. You know your child best, and in collaboration with advice from their educators, you need to make the best decision for your child and family. Every child develops differently. In my state, parents and caregivers can choose to send their children to primary school anywhere between the ages of 4.5 to almost-6. It’s a huge age range!
I’m not into school readiness checklists. Every child is different and growing up is such a fluid process. Instead, here are some questions you can reflect on in regards to your child starting school. You do not need to answer YES to every question. It’s not an exam! These are just questions to think about as you consider this decision.
Can your child separate from you without too much distress?
The school bell rings, my class lines up in a designated area and the school day begins. Tears and sniffles are definitely anticipated in those early days, but eventually students are expected to be able to wave goodbye to their parents or carers and move independently into class. There will, of course, be a handful of kids who find this very difficult and may well find it difficult well into early primary school.
Can your child follow simple directions?
As soon as my students enter the classroom, I issue a three-step instruction to order our day. Is your child able to listen to and promptly follow instructions when they are given one after the other?
Can your child listen and concentrate for short periods?
Difficulties with listening and concentration have obvious implications for learning. Children also need to be capable of sharing an adult’s attention with other children.
How does your child cope with transitions and change?
By 11am every Tuesday in my Kindy classroom, my students have made five transitions in and out of the classroom. They have dealt with two other teachers besides myself. Kindergarten is fast-paced and students should be capable of dealing with different people and multiple transitions without too much fuss.
Can they express their feelings and needs to a variety of people?
We do not expect all children to be out-going and confident. However, each child does need to be able to communicate their needs to the classroom teacher and any other teaching staff that they may come into contact with (for example, on the playground, in the library, at the canteen). It’s also helpful if they are comfortable in a large group of children.
Does your child look after their belongings?
A classroom teacher doesn’t have the time to help 21 little people unzip their school bags, open their lunch box, tie their shoelaces or put on their jumpers. Students need to be able to look after their uniform and bag.
Can your child eat with minimal assistance?
Is your child able to open a lunch box, drink bottle and packaging? Students are expected to eat independently, so keep this in mind when packing your child’s lunch and recess each day.
Can your child go to the toilet unaided?
Self-care skills are a necessary part of being able to get by at Big School. Your child will also be expected to take themselves off to the toilet block with only a ‘buddy’ by their side.
Can your child work and play cooperatively with other children?
Many learning experiences in the classroom involve sharing and taking turns. On the playground, students need to be able to problem-solve in social situations.
When considering school readiness, be sure to follow the guidelines as set by your state’s education department.
This article first appeared at Mumtastic.
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