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It’s the recurring question most parents agonise over.Decades ago, the decision was often based solely on yourchild’s age. Your child was deemed ready to start school when they reached the specified minimum age.

Nowadays, gauging readiness depends on a lot more factors. Each child needs to be appraised in several key areas. But primarily, the question comes down to whether they are socially and emotionally ready to start school. Are they able to make friends easily? Can they communicate and act independently, especially in matters of self-care?

While writing their name and knowing the letters of the alphabet are important things, these are only part of the range of new information to be internalised by a child before entering a school environment.

The competence to think reasonably, communicate clearly and connect with peers is considered vital in any child’s success in school. Then on top of that, the child’s level of physical development needs to be taken into account too.

Typically, not all children are competent in all areas. For instance, some who are considered mentally advanced might be deemed emotionally unprepared. In the same way, someone physically adept might be considered slow in terms of language or social development.

So it is important that we ask:Is your child ready for school?

You can assess this for yourself, or with the help and input of your Kindy or Child Care Centre educators, by considering the following pivotal questions:

  • Can your child understand instructions and follow them? The ability to comprehend instructions is a necessary skill needed to keep up with peers and function efficiently in class.
  • Is your child self-sufficient? Are they able to go to the bathroom on their own and do simple things like do up a shoe or put on a jumper or coat?
  • Can they count and recite the alphabet? Teachers often expect children to have a fundamental knowledge of the numbers and the ABCs, even if these will still be covered by the curriculum.
  • Can they cut with scissors or hold a pencil? These motor skills will come in handy when learning how to write and keep up with classroom activities.
  • Are they interested in books? Does your child try to tell a story based on the pictures found in books? Often, this is a clear sign that language development is on a par with other children of similar age. It’s also an obvious indication that your child is nearly ready to learn how to read.
  • Are they receptive and curious about learning new things? If you notice your child’s curiosity is stronger than the fear to try something unfamiliar, then chances are they’ll do very well in school.
  • Do they socialise well with other kids? Having good social skills (like, for instance, being willing to share knowledge and knowing how to take turns) goes a long way towards more effective learning, especially when the child is the company of other children all day.
  • Is their emotional competence sufficient? Can your child work well with others in a group? If they are able to compromise and join in a consensus with others, then that is a good indication of readiness for school.

If you responded ‘yes’ to most of the questions, then it would be safe to assume your child is ready for school. Otherwise, another year of preschool might be beneficial.

In our next article, we will help you discover the basic things you need to know and ask about child care.