The essential skills your child needs to develop before going to school 

The end of the year isn’t that far away and as a parent, you are probably beginning to consider what school to send your children to. But is your child school-ready?

School readiness is a major development milestone for children as it demonstrates their ability to succeed in school. School readiness can be confused by a child’s ability to read and write their name and count to ten, however, it is much more than that. There are eight indicators that signify a child will have a smooth transition to “big school”.

At Child’s Play ELC, we strive to provide every child with high-quality education that readies them for a lifelong love of learning. One of the ways we do this is through a government-approved 4-year-old kindergarten program that utilises two pedagogies of learning.

Here are some skills your child needs to be school-ready, and why they will need them.

How to be School-Ready

1. Be able to listen and follow simple instructions

One of the key things children need to have developed by the time they go to school is receptive understanding which is understanding spoken language and being able to perform specific tasks. The reason why this is so important is because school is a completely new environment with new people and new routines and it is those small skills that will assist children in transitioning smoothly.

By being able to listen and follow instructions, your children will also build upon their memory skills and language skills to further their explorative nature and love of learning.

2. Communicate their needs

As they start school, your child will need to be comfortable communicating their needs and feelings. At childcare, many educators are good at paying attention to a child’s behaviours to determine their needs. In school however often a teacher is required to look after four times the amount of children and may not be able to catch all of the non-verbal cues your child provides.

Some things your child may need to communicate include:

  • Needing a drink break
  • Needing a toilet break
  • That they don’t understand or they don’t want to do something

By being able to communicate these needs they will develop independence and further their understanding of their bodily functions. This will make it relatively easy for them to transition into school and will help them become a confident learner.

3. Identify basic patterns, shapes and colours

Cognitive skills are really important to being school ready as often teachers will assume children are at a particular level already. By being able to identify patterns, shapes and colours we are assisting children’s cognitive development and allowing them to use creativity, critical thinking skills and reason.

There are many skills in knowing how to identify patterns, shapes and colours. Most importantly it helps children with basic maths and thematic learning. When you are out driving in the car, get your child to identify the colour of the car; “red car,” “blue car,” “yellow car.” Alternatively, you can do puzzles with them as it teaches them how to put pieces together to create a full picture. These skills are a part of their cognitive development and when we build these skills it encourages creativity and logical thinking which develops their interests.

4. Understand stories

Storytelling and reading are so important for children but they are also good indicators of school readiness. By understanding stories and being able to tell their own stories about what happened on the weekend, we are furthering their language development. When we read stories they learn expressive language skills such as how words sound and how to use them.  Eventually, our children will attempt to use these words in their own conversations. At Child’s Play ELC, we incorporate reading into our curriculum with library rooms and lots of books available for our children.

School readiness is also determined by how well they can understand stories. When children begin to understand stories, they build schemas and improve their memory skills which helps them understand sequences, patterns and instructions. In particular, stories demonstrate cause and effect relationships which can help children assess risks and events they might encounter.

5. Knowledge of the environment and their role in it

As part of our curriculum, we help children learn about the environment, the community and the role they play. This allows them to be school ready as they have a greater understanding of their surroundings. The Reggio Emilia approach teaches children about the awareness of others and allows them to lead their learning. By incorporating this approach into our curriculum, our children have greater confidence, spatial awareness and independent skills.

6. Have the ability to ask questions and be curious

This one is our personal favourite skills for being school ready. By harnessing their natural curiosity and asking questions about what something is and how it works, children are able to develop a love for learning. This enables their need for information and teaches them how to use their five senses, critical thinking and creativity for the answers. Then when it comes to going to a big new school, they will be excited and raring to go.

7. Social skills

School is a social environment much like childcare, however it is expected of a 5-year-old that they know how to act in a group. For example, being able to share resources and take turns. These skills are the basics to friendship-making and to conflict resolution and children who are able to use these skills are happier, healthier and develop a love for learning and school in general. Kindergarten is a really good way for children to develop their social skills and learn empathy from this development.

8. Independence

Children that are able to display some independence are very school ready. With independence comes responsibility and often as children develop these skills they develop responsibility for their belongings. A good indicator is they can pack their bag each day and they know where it is at the end of each day at childcare. Some of the ways you can support their independence when they go to school is by getting a lunch box that is easy to open and by using packets and containers that they know how to open.

Pair this with communication, social skills and a naturally inquisitive mind, and children are genuinely excited and interested to start school.

Tears are natural.

Despite every effort that we all go to make going to school an easy transition, it is quite natural for children to experience some tears on their first day of school. This is to be expected given it is a big and new environment where there aren’t too many familiar faces. It is also quite natural for parents to shed some tears on the first day but try to remember, we have excellent schools with wonderful teachers ready and waiting to make your little ones feel comfortable.

Ready to be school ready?

At Child’s Play ELC, we run a government-approved kindergarten program that prepares your child for school and a lifelong love of learning. Our curriculums allow children to lead their learning and develop an understanding of the world around them whilst also having fun. We are one of the few centres who have Excellent ratings across the board and continue to strive for best practice each and every day. If you are interested in joining our Child’s Play family, book a tour here.