Even if your child is old enough by the cut-off date for your elementary
school’s enrollment, it’s more important to focus on their
physical, social, and cognitive development to see if they are ready to
start school. Parents understand that putting their children into school
before they are ready can lead to anxiety and a negative academic experience
that may dog the rest of their school career. Here are some guidelines
to the skills your child needs to be ready for ‘big’ school.
Start by talking to your child’s kindergarten teacher; they know
your child best and will know how they cope with the classroom situation,
what areas require improvement and whether they will manage with the challenges
of elementary school.
Can your child follow basic instructions? It’s vital that they are
able to listen, then carry out instructions in order to fit into the classroom
Personal care is also important and your child should be able to go to
the bathroom and wash their hands by themselves. They should also be able
to dress themselves and be mostly self-sufficient.
Whether your child went to kindergarten or not, they should have a rudimentary
understanding of the alphabet and phonetic sounds, for example the letter
‘A’ is for apple and acorn. They should also be able to count.
Fine motor skills are also important and your child should be able to hold
a pencil properly, use a scissors and perform other precision tasks.
Your child also needs language and comprehension skills. You can test this
by reading a simple age-appropriate book while showing them the pictures.
Then ask them to recount the story using the pictures as cues.
Playing well with others is another essential element to school-readiness.
Being shy or independent is fine, but they must be able to get along with
their classmates, share and take turns. Your child will be interacting
with other children all day, so social adaptability is important if they
are going to be happy.
Of course your child may need a little work in some of these areas and
the summer is a great time to get them ready for the new academic year.
You can practice skills they will need in the classroom like sitting down,
lining up, listening to the teacher, going to the bathroom and washing hands.
Take time this summer to draw, paint, make crafts and cut with scissors
to get your child accustomed to following instructions and honing fine
motor skills. If your child is shy, consider a summer day camp and play
dates so that they can socialize a little more. If they don’t already
have a routine in place, this summer is a great time to get them accustomed
to following a schedule. Start with bedtimes and meals at the same time
every day so that they can get a feel for what the school day will be
like. If you aren’t sure that your child is ready for the school
experience, ask an educational consultant for a review.
pic by Mark McQuade