Servicing Newcastle, Lake Macquarie & Port Stephens (02) 4044 1122

If you are a parent with children aged 4 – 5 years, chances are you have heard the concept of school readiness and spent most of this year asking: “How do I know if my child is ready for school”? It can be such a daunting prospect for both you and your child, and the search for answers often exposes more questions. These could be anything from “what skills will my child need?” to “how can I help prepare them for the new environment?” And while you search for definitive answers to set your mind at ease, the reality is that all children will be at different levels when they enter the classroom, and that is ok.

In this article, I will unpack the concept of school readiness, the importance of understanding your child’s strengths, and what you can do to help with your child’s transition.

School Readiness

The concept of ‘school readiness’ has not been without criticism. Many industry experts believed the original idea to be limited in its approach of only assessing a child’s development when determining readiness. The traditional child maturation and development flavour of the school readiness concept has now evolved, and considers the following interrelated components:

  • children’s readiness for school,
  • school’s readiness for children,
  • the capacity of families and communities to provide developmental opportunities for their young children

Readiness does not reside solely in the child, but reflects the environments in which children find themselves―their families, early childhood settings, schools, neighbourhoods, and communities. – Kagan and Rigby, 2003

Child’s Readiness for School

Experts, including those within the early education space, consider the following skills and behaviours to be important for children to enter the school environment without substantial support:

  • Physical Health and Wellbeing: ability to climb, throw and catch a ball (gross motor skills), cut with scissors, grip and draw with pencils / crayons (fine motor skills), able to sit, turn pages in a book, build with blocks, use the toilet independently and wash their hands, able to dress themselves, open and unpack their lunch box and feed themselves.
  • Social Competence: able to share, take turns, get along with others, sort out problems, follow rules, cope with stress of new situations and new learning tasks, exhibit healthy levels of assertiveness, ability to play solo and with other children, and exhibit pro-social behaviours.
  • Emotional Maturity: some ability to self manage their emotions, able to cope with minimal adult contact in large groups, develop friendships, and handle separation from parents.
  • Language and Cognitive Skills: able to listen and follow basic instructions, communicate with words, ability to speak clearly and respond appropriately when spoken to, basic numeracy and literacy skills.
  • Communication Skills and General Knowledge: basic conversation skills, manners, ability to communicate needs appropriately, and understanding of wider world.
  • Independence: basic skills to manage needs without adult supervision.

While the above can be helpful guidelines to base an assessment, it is also important to consider a child’s individual strengths and what environment will work for them. Of course, children with development, speech, language, and learning delays, will not always be able to ‘tick these boxes’. It is because of this that the question may need to be “is the school ready for my child?”, rather than “is my child ready for school?”

Determining a School’s Readiness

For a school to be ready (for everyone) they need to be proactively seeking information about the individual needs of each child associated with the above – physical health, wellbeing, social competence, emotional development, language skills, cognitive skills, communication skills, general knowledge and independence. When specific needs and strengths of each child are identified, the school is better equipped to prepare and maintain a positive school experience.

To assess if the school you are looking at is ‘ready’ for your child, consider the following:

  • Have they established effective communication channels with your child’s early education setting?
  • Are they warm, responsive and nurturing towards your child?
  • Do they offer curriculum, environments, experiences and individualised learning programs that are enriched by play and encourage inclusivity?
  • Do they offer additional supports for children with special needs?
  • Are they aware of additional supports available?

Development Support

There are a number of resources you can tap into that will help prepare your child for school. Of course, preschool is at the top of the list as this is an environment where your child can learn more than just basic numeracy and literacy skills. Early Childhood Educators can help your child develop social, self-care, and communication skills, while building resilience, and learning all-important fine and gross motor skills. In circumstances, where additional assistance is required, parents can seek the guidance of occupational therapists, psychologist, and of course, speech pathologists.

Speech pathologists can offer additional supports across the following building blocks that are necessary in developing school readiness:

  • Receptive Language: Comprehension of spoken language (e.g. the teachers instructions).
  • Expressive language: Producing speech or language that can be understood by others (e.g. talking to friends).
  • Articulation: The ability to clearly pronounce individual sounds in words.
  • Executive Functioning: Higher order reasoning and thinking skills (e.g. What do I need to pack to take to school?).
  • Emotional Development/Regulation: The ability to perceive emotion, integrate emotion to facilitate thought, understand emotions and regulate emotions (for a child’s own responses to challenges).
  • Social Skills: Determined by the ability to engage in reciprocal interaction with others (either verbally or non-verbally), to compromise with others and to be able to recognise and follow social norms.
  • Planning and Sequencing: The sequential multi-step task/activity performance to achieve a well-defined result (e.g. a cut and paste task or a simple maths worksheet).
  • Self Regulation: The ability to obtain, maintain and change emotion, behaviour, attention and activity level appropriate for a task or situation.
  • Sensory Processing: Accurate processing of sensory stimulation in the environment as well as in one’s own body that influences attention and learning that affects how a child sits, holds a pencil and listens to the teacher.

What You Can Do

There is nothing quite like the home setting when it comes to helping your child get ready for school, and we mustn’t forget that children learn best through play. To help your child build essential skills for school, try some of these activities at home:

  • Arrange playdates with other children starting at the same school. This will give your child a chance to develop their social skills and will give them confidence in knowing they will have a friend to talk to when they start school.
  • Let your child practise drawing with a range of different materials, such as pencils, crayons and textas, to help develop their fine motor skills, and remember to praise their efforts.
  • Encourage your child to dress and undress themselves, and use the toilet independently.
  • Encourage your child to have conversations with you. Ask them questions, listen to their answers, and encourage them to talk about what they think and feel so they can learn how to express themselves with new friends and teachers.
  • Read with your child as often as possible. If your child has some reading skills already, that’s great! But if not, don’t worry – they will be taught how to read at school. Just enjoying books you’re your child develops early literacy skills and helps encourage a love of reading. When reading with your child, talk to them about the story, point out new words, and ask questions. This will help with their comprehension, vocabulary and language skills.
  • Help your child develop a basic awareness of numbers by encouraging them to help out around the house. They could set the table and count the plates, match socks from the washing line, or measure the ingredients when baking.
  • Play games with your child including simple board games (snakes and ladders) and card games (snap and go fish). Games are great for practising turn-taking, sharing, waiting and learning to cope with not winning.

Knowing if your child is ready for school can be tricky, but remember, all children develop at different rates. They all have their own strengths, interests and approach to learning, and to help them develop we need to understand these individual attributes and encourage them to grow at their own pace.

Don’t worry if your child doesn’t demonstrate all the ‘school readiness’ attributes above, the picture is so much bigger than this. Think about how your child relates to the world around them, and what sort of environment they will flourish in.

Finally, trust your own instincts. At the end of the day, you know your child best. You know their strengths and challenges, and what will work for them. Listen to what your gut is telling you, and don’t stop asking questions, particularly those that we can help with.

The A Growing Understanding team are here to help you navigate this tricky period, so send us an email to discover how we can help your child develop essential skills in readiness for school.

15 hours ago

A Growing Understanding- Speech Pathology

The Carly Ryan Foundation Inc. has created these helpful fact sheets for commonly used apps/games/programs. With so many of our children accessing these programs, we strongly believe in their efforts for a safer online environment for all families!The Carly Ryan Foundation produces factsheets on some of the more common apps used. For a .pdf version of the apps please email ... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

HIGH FIVE ✋🏻 Abbigail!! You have been working so hard on your ‘r’ sounds (it’s not easy to hear the difference between ‘r’ and ‘w’)! You are such a joy to work with and I loved the laughs we shared during our practise session today!
Also- Abbi shared the StorySign Android app with us today! This clever app scans the words in books and translates into signs to hearing-impaired children! Check it out! ~ Lauren

#growunderstanding #highfive #speechpathology #speechtherapy #excellence #newcastle #lakemacquarie #portstephens
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

🎶🎵🎶Did you know that singing, including nursery rhymes and other ‘finger play’ games can be a wonderful way to interact with your child with ASD? These activities can encourage your child’s turn taking skills and requesting skills - essential for building early social skills. Today we had a happy time with Miss C, her mother and her teddies singing ‘Round and Round the Garden’.

What was your favourite nursery rhyme/finger play game as a child? ~Melissa 🙂
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

What a night! Not only did Jess win Young Employee of the Year, but I am proud to say that our team was the last ones dancing on the dance floor!! What an amazing night and what an amazing team! I am unbelievably proud! The Lake Macquarie City Council presented a wonderful night of celebration, and we thank all the sponsors and supporters for helping to make it happen.

#lmbea #excellence #growunderstanding #speechpathology #speechtherapy #lakemacquarie #newcastle #portstephens #amazingteam
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

We missed out on the Employer of Choice award this year (with the award going to Toronto Private Hospital). But with such a high calibre of businesses as finalists, we are still extremely proud! A Growing Understanding is a place to establish and grow a career and we want it to be well-known as an awesome place to work! With an amazing team like this- we can continue to provide high quality, awesome speech pathology services to children in our region! We are proud to be finalists in this category!

#lmbea #excellence #growunderstanding #speechpathology #speechtherapy #lakemacquarie #newcastle #portstephens #amazingteam
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

Have Questions?

Our Locations

Lake Macquarie
Unit 7-8, 48 Oakdale Road, Gateshead NSW

Port Stephens
Building E, 1 Technology Place, Williamtown NSW

Our Locations

Lake Macquarie
Unit 7-8, 48 Oakdale Road, Gateshead NSW

Port Stephens
Building E, 1 Technology Place, Williamtown NSW

Copyright © 2019 A Growing Understanding | Website Design and Development by Beverly Cassidy | PRIVACY POLICY

Medicare LogoHiCaps Logo

Copyright © 2019 A Growing Understanding | Website Design and Development by Beverly Cassidy | PRIVACY POLICY