Your child is school-ready when he attains the skills that will enable him to engage in and benefit from early learning experiences. School-readiness is preparation for Kindergarten, Reception class, and First grade. It lays the foundation for an amazing school experience.
In order for a child to be school or kindergarten-ready, they must be able to cope with routines and work with others. They must also listen to and follow instructions. Likewise, they are expected to toilet, take care of belongings, communicate needs and dress independently. A child needs to be emotionally ready for school as well. An approximate age for school readiness is around 5 – 7 years.
How can you assist your child to become school-ready?
- Help your child to develop self-help skills. He should be able to open and close a lunch box and water bottle.
- Partner with local schools – you and your child should make visits to local schools, and observe how the kids play and interact with one another and their teachers. This action can create a positive anticipation for school. It will prevent anxiety and fear of going to school.
- Talk to your child about the ‘big school’. Talk about basic manners, and how to get along with other children.
Whether you decide to get your child school-ready at home or through preschool, engage him in these important activities
- Basic forms of self-care tasks such as using the toilet, self-feeding and dressing.
- Different forms of play– games with rules and games without rules, movement-based games and stationary or table-top games. Also include games that provide sensory experiences, onlooker games, and games that require active engagement.
- Pre-writing activities- these help the child to be able to write well and develop functionality of his hands. They include using play dough, creating art, using scissors and tracing with fingers. Others are pressing pegs, threading beads, lacing shoes, and scribbling.
- Pre-reading activities like singing, rhyming and storytelling.
Introduce your child to friendships, tours, excursions and playdates. You can do these in groups such as with neighbours, family and friends.
Getting a child school-ready helps him to develop the drive for learning. This will be relevant for his entire education. Do not be in a hurry to get your child involved in academic activities before he is ready.
Many parents have opted for crèches and preschools to prepare their children for the kindergarten and school years ahead. Unfortunately, some preschool systems are not fulfilling these roles. Preschool systems should not go straight to school tasks. Because that may end up denying the children adequate preparation that is needed for learning. They should rather concentrate on getting the child to be school-ready.
If your child does not attain a fair level of school-readiness before starting grade 1, he is likely to have challenges. These include challenges with reading, gross motor skills such as throwing and catching a ball, fine motor skills such as writing. He may also have problems with mathematical and social skills.
Written by Mildred Wiredu, occupational therapist. Edited by Babychildandco staff