Is my child ready for school?

“Is my child ready for school?”  This is one of the most commonly asked questions by parents during seminars or on kindergarten parents’ day.  But in fact, it is not an easy question and difficult to answer.  “Readiness” is not just a matter of having one specific skill for all or one set of preparation, it is a complicated issue comprised of the basic six areas of learning and child development.  Children start to learn about the world around them from the moment they are born. The care and education offered by a school setting, helps them to grow by providing means of interesting activities that are appropriate for their age and stage of development.

The areas of development and learning skills are: Physical Development; Personal, Social and Emotional Development; Communication, Language and Literacy Development; Problem Solving, Reasoning and Numeracy; Knowledge and Understanding of the World and Creative Development.  Together with the Early Learning Goals, this matters the decision of parents.

While many of the above skills are acquired as a child is developmentally ready to achieve them, parents can boost the skills the child already has.  You can help get your child ready for school by exploring your everyday home activities more in-depth and from a different perspective to set indicator checklist for school “Readiness”.

This can be done by starting as simply as setting up play-dates at which you can drop him off instead of sticking around or leaving him with a caregiver a little more frequently.   It is a great way to have your child explore what he/she is able to do on his/her own is to take advantage of seeing how far the child can do without attentive to familiar adults.  Another concern that most parents are agonizing is “should I let my child start school early or wait a year?” when their children are born in September through December. Normal child development in the early years varies uniquely and widely.   Also, some parents are facing the question of whether a child on the immature end of the developmental curve should move on or repeat since retention is a tough issue to decide.  Some say that to delay the start of school is a better strategy for most cases mentioned.  Many preschools and kindergartens’ professionals will help parents to assess your child’s school readiness.  Some children adjust better when they wait until age three to start school. If you do make the decision to wait a year, parents can enroll children in any playgroup program to build their skills during the first learning year.  Here are some hints for school readiness for parents’ reference:-

1) Child’s independence – once if you decided to put your child to school, he/she will be expected not only to spend time away from you, but also to make decisions and complete tasks without your input.  This is a bit daunting for many children and even the most independent children that this monumental change can be found. You can ease this transition by beginning to step back a little and let your child take on a little more responsibility.
2) Child’s language expression – it is certain when parents talk to their children is to expose them to language and conversational skills, but it takes time to step it up a notch. Talk to him/her about what schooling is about, your thoughts, your schedule and what is going on in their world as you go through your day.  Exposing them to new ideas will provide them with new vocabularies that they can use to speak to you about their ideas and how they see the world.
3) Child’s own pace of development – as mentioned above that a child is unique with developmental change variation, learning develops along a continuum that begins in infancy.  From gross motor skills to a certain level in order to progress in their fine motor skills, they become ready to internally manipulate tools like spoons and crayons automatically.  Later on they will learn how to tear or cut magazines and be prepared to have a houseful of confetti.

So, do not be too concerned if your child has a few signs of immaturity.  A young TWO who is disruptive in a group, who exhibits separation anxiety or cannot even nappy trained might benefit from waiting to start school at early years.  “Terrible TWO” is an age when infants will learn a lot.  These individual skills are part of school readiness assessments.  Immature behaviors signal parents to look deeper into the issue.  Choosing suitable schools with warm and active learning atmosphere for them to allow their fitness right in will be the next important issue for you to think about!!

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唐少勳 校長

香港幼稚園協會會長、幼稚園/幼兒園校長、資深幼兒教育工作者

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