Is My Child Ready for School?

Many parents spend considerable time discussing whether they will send their children to school early, on time, or hold them back. For those parents whose child falls into a grey area because of their birth date, what year to send them to school can be one of the most difficult decisions to make. Do you start your child at four and a half years, or do you wait until they are going on six? Are they emotionally mature enough? Will they be able to keep up academically?

The reality is, school readiness is not about being able to read or write, know colours or count. These skills will be taught at school. School readiness is mostly about emotional and social maturity, aspects of development that we cannot fast-track. 

"School readiness is mostly about emotional and social maturity, aspects of development that we cannot fast-track."

The key areas of social maturity and emotional development include taking turns, self-awareness, ability to separate, consideration for others, developing independence, self-confidence, understanding and managing their emotions and big feelings, and establishing positive relationships.

It may be useful to consider the following questions about your child as you make this assessment:

  • Can they move onto new activities easily?
  • Do they separate well from their carer?
  • Do they interact with other children?
  • Can they recognise and express their feelings, needs and ideas?
  • Can they concentrate on a task?
  • Can they make an independent decision or choice?
  • Can they follow two or three instructions at the same time? Have they developed some control of their fine motor skills?

As a parent what can I do to help my child in their school readiness?

There are many activities that parents undertake with young children that have a positive effect on their development and promote school readiness such as:

  • Speaking positively about school, remembering the word ‘BIG’ school can be overwhelming for some children.
  • Encouraging them to express their needs and use words to ask for help.
  • Talking with your child and asking questions about the world around them.
  • Encourage them to develop their pincer grip to peg clothes on the clothes line, tear paper, play Lego, thread straws or beads on string.
  • Read to your child and discuss the story and pictures.
  • Teach your child songs and nursery rhymes.
  • Look for letters and numbers at the shops, and when about in the local area.
  • Take them on outings to new places, giving them two to three instructions at a time.
  • Create regular opportunities for them to play with their friends and other children.
  • Visit the school you will be attending with your child and ask questions about orientation day processes.
"All educators want to see your child thrive and starting school at the right time is the beginning of that journey as a lifelong learner."

Any final tips on making this important decision?

Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to talk to others about your child. Also seek advice from the school, preschool, family and friends about whether your child is ready for school. If there are areas you are concerned about speak to the school about the needs your child might have, and ask about any transition programs being offered to assist your child in their journey to school. All educators want to see your child thrive and starting school at the right time is the beginning of that journey as a lifelong learner.

Nicole Smith

Head of Primary, Green Point Christian College

Nicole Smith has a Degree in Early Childhood Education and has been a primary educator for over 20 years.During this time Nicole has taught in 3 different countries and lives and works on the Central Coast with her husband and 3 teenage and young adult children.