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 elementary 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 elementary 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 situation.
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 elementary school experience, ask an educational consultant for a review.