In the past, the most dominant factor that determined whether a child was ready for school was age, and while that’s still an important factor, in the recent years a number of others have become equally if not even more important. For those parents whose children fall into the ‘grey’ area, this is a tough call. If you send your kid to school at 4 and a half years old, they might feel overwhelmed, and if you wait until they’re six, they might miss out and have a dull and unfulfilling gap year. Luckily, whether your kid was born in one of the confusing months, or right on school schedule, there are things you can do to make sure they’re good and ready to start this new great chapter.
Consult your preschool teacher
One of the first recommended courses of action is talking to your kid’s preschool teacher and carefully listening to their advice as they have both the experience of having worked with your child as well as the necessary training in early childhood development.
This is one checklist that you shouldn’t concern yourself with too much. While knowing colors, numbers and being able to read at this age is amazing, the lack of these skills shouldn’t be a deterrent. All of this and much more will be learned at school, so if your kid isn’t much of a reader, don’t let that discourage you. However, if you do want to help your child and ease them into the process, make sure to read and sing songs and nursery rhymes, play with letters and numbers. That way, even if they don’t master these skills completely, they’ll at least be familiar with all of them once school starts.
The health checkup
Ok, this kind of checkup is a good and proper way to start things. The first things a comprehensive health checkup entails are height, weight and BMI, along with a questionnaire about dietary habits, of course. There are eye and hearing tests which are highly important, that are followed by the dental check. Now, you have to approach this with care as kids have a tendency to be scared of dentists. That’s why it’s crucial to find an amazing dentist in Sydney, or whichever city you live in. You need a dentist that is great with kids and can put their mind at ease so they can learn everything about dental hygiene and lose the fear of dentist at a very early age. In addition to this ‘basic’ checkup, you should also make sure to determine if your kid has allergies, so you could plan their meals accordingly and notify the school so they’re aware of your kids’ restrictions. Of course, skills such as speech and language development, as well as good motor skills, are on the checklist.
The checklist that matters
Instead of focusing on your child’s academic skills, your main focus should be on their social and emotional maturity, because this is what really matters. The ways you can make sure whether your kid has reached this level of maturity is by asking yourself such questions as: Are they capable of interacting and playing with other kids with a minimum or no tears or fighting? Can they stay focused on a story and pay attention to what they’re being taught? Are they independent in terms of being able to go to the bathroom alone, put on their clothes, zip and button, and tie their laces? Do they possess basic manners – saying please, thank you, may I, etc? As far as other signs of psychological and emotional maturity go, assess whether your child has the ability to make independent decisions, follow instructions, transition from one to another activity with ease, and most importantly recognise and express their feelings clearly. If you have any trouble determining the level of maturity, there are always readiness tests that can be conducted by professionals at school. Sure, these focus on academic assessments the most, but they do determine other aspects of readiness as well. Of course, these aren’t unmistakable, and you shouldn’t base your decision on them if your own knowledge of your child is telling you differently, but they do make a good tie-breaker in those situations when you’re not certain.