5 Top Tips in understanding the meaning of school readiness: concepts to consider, recommendations and formal school guidelines explained.

April 30, 2018

As an early childhood teacher and parent, I am frequently asked “Is my child ready for school”. Parents the world over, puzzle and perplexed, seek answers, clarification and real information about this news worthy topic.  But this question is not easily answered when looking at a single aspect of what we so often call school readiness. Instead it is best considered as a combination of factors based on your child’s age, learning strengths and challenges, your intended school setting and on your family’s expectations /needs.

 

As parents, you are on the frontline of decision making for your child and their school beginning. The age-old question of school readiness is so often a talking point and it can be challenging to take a step back and really reflect upon what matters and why. But as your child’s first and most important teacher, you can make an informed and educated decision.

Let’s consider and discuss five key recommendations that will hopefully support each parent to make a thoughtful decision for their child.

 

How old is your child? The legal requirements.

 

 The NSW Department of Education mandates that a child can start kindergarten (the first year of school) at the beginning of the school year, if they turn 5 on or before 31st of July that year. By law, all children must be in compulsory schooling by their 6th birthday. As a result of this age range start date, some children will begin school as young four and half year olds, while others will be turning 6 in first term of Kindergarten. It does create a big diversity in one classroom context.

On Sydney’s North Shore, home to Ganeinu Long Day Care and Preschool, parents typically send their children having already turned 5. This creates an appearance of a very mature looking Kindergarten year group, but in fact they are simply a little older, with age related skills that reflect their birth dates. It is wise to ask your child’s intended school for starting age averages. This can help you determine how your child will sit within their year group of peers. Remember, you are not simply making a year group decision for Kindergarten. Your child’s start date and age will have an impact across their school lifespan. Have you considered how old your child will be in year twelve?  Social and emotional maturity is a topic just as relevant in Kindergarten as it will be when your child is a teenager, making choices and decisions for themselves.

 

More than ABC and 123.

 

School readiness is often defined by a child’s prior knowledge of literacy and numeracy concepts and skills. At Ganeinu, our teachers provide a firm platform of number, letter and phonemic awareness that scaffolds your children’s later reading and maths success. Phonemic awareness refers to your child’s ability to hear, identify and recognise individual letter sounds and it is a good indicator of later reading success. We use rhyming games, stories and literacy experiences to promote this skill in a play-based environment. Most importantly it is fun and we all know children engage with learning that is enjoyable.

 

But school readiness is most importantly understood when considering a child’s social and emotional skills, capacity and maturity. Being ready for school is about confident social interactions, making a friend, working in a small group, regulating your own behaviour, being resilient and adaptable. These skills enable your child to enjoy a school environment and to learn, using all the knowledge and existing talents that preschool has developed. Social and emotional skills underpin all other learning as a measure of school readiness.

 

School readiness in an attitude.

 

Being ready for school is also about your child’s independence. Can they toilet themselves, identify their own belongings and confidently separate from parents?  A willingness to try new challenges, to enjoy a task without adult direction and to be internally motivated is essential. Developing this attitude comes from an opportunity to learn within a positive, supportive and inspiring early childhood environment.

 

At Ganeinu we start school preparation from the moment your child arrives in our care. In the year before your child begins school we would recommend that they attend at least three days a week within our preschool. Our long day care centre provides a comprehensive preschool program designed to engage and promote school readiness and offers extended hours of care to accommodate parental needs. Long day care encompasses a traditional preschool approach, with hours and flexibility to support families and children, plus you have the advantage of all those extra hours of learning each week. Learning is not simply a 9am- 3pm option any more. Learning is a whole day approach and a lifelong attitude.

 

Talk with the preschool teachers

 

The best professional advice about your individual child’s readiness, comes from their teachers. Ongoing observation, critical reflection and curriculum planning within our early childhood classrooms, enables our teachers to provide an environment that supports your child’s strengths and build on areas of interest and challenge. Our educators are proactive in arranging parent interviews and guiding you on the best choice for your child. At the end of the day, the decision is yours, but our educators do see your child in a classroom context and have detailed knowledge of their social, emotional, cognitive, language and physical skills. Make the most of the resource at your fingertips, they are happy to speak with you and give feedback about your choices.  Ganeinu holds a parent information evening to share how we approach school readiness and this is valuable resource too.

 

Parental Expectations

 

Starting school is not just about your child, it is as much an education for you as it is for them. Speak with your local schools, investigate your schooling choices and consider the social and environmental factors that will affect your decision. Which school is a great fit for you and for your child – a whole family approach is so important. You need to feel engaged, welcomed and confident in the school just as your child will. Ganeinu is a wonderful beginning for your child, as we prepare children for entry into all school environments. Regardless of your choice, public, private, secular or religious based, our strong ethics program that is founded in the Jewish faith and values, offers your child a perfect springboard towards school. You can be confident that your child’s early years education will support, scaffold and develop a love of learning in a caring and nurturing atmosphere.

 

These top five tips will hopefully make deciphering the school readiness mystery a little less daunting. You will make a great choice for your child if you simply consider these tips:

 

 

  1. How old is your child? The legal requirements.

  2. More than ABC and 123.

  3. School readiness in an attitude.

  4. Talk with the preschool teachers

  5. Parental Expectations

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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