It’s very normal as a parent to be concerned about your child getting ready for school. Skills related to reading and writing, counting and arithmetic, and the ability to solve logical problems become very important for the first time in your child’s life when they start school. Usually, parents are the most worried about these things. Many parents are so concerned about their kids that they teach them to read and write before they actually enter school in an attempt to prevent the challenges that their children may face — but this is only one aspect of readiness a child could have before beginning school. Read on for the full scope of skills and ‘soft skills’ that your child needs to get ready to start school.
Assessment of Psychological Readiness for School Admission
In pursuit of knowledge and skills, many parents do not think about how to psychologically prepare their kids for this huge adjustment. It is not only the academic challenges that will be new to the first graders or year one students, but there will also be new children, teachers, and a system of rules, regulations, and assessment.
When assessing a child’s readiness for school, specialists usually consider such indicators as the child’s:
- desire to learn new things;
- ability to concentrate and hold attention in accordance with the instructions and rules;
- ability to initiate and maintain conversations with teachers and children, to ask clarifying questions, and to defend their point of view;
- ability to organize and maintain group interaction in class and free time;
- self-control and self-organization;
- knowledge and understanding about the world around us;
As you can see, reading and writing skills are not required when entering school, with the main emphasis of determining if a child is ready for school being personal and communicative aspects of children’s development.
Getting Ready for School Intellectually
When considering getting ready for school, most parents are primarily focused on the intellectual readiness of the child for school. Intellectual readiness includes:
- sufficient knowledge and understanding of their environment,
- development of cognitive functions, such as attention, memory, critical thinking, perception, imagination, speech, etc.
- understanding of knowledge required for school learning (awareness of the concepts of mathematics, reading, and writing)
Without a doubt, the above described knowledge is very valuable, however, perfect adaptation of the child to school is never guaranteed. There will be challenges no matter what, but your child’s interest in learning and gaining knowledge along with sufficient communication skills will surely be crucial. It is absolutely vital to remember that parents only need to pay attention to preparing their children to learn to read and write, and not their actual reading and writing skills. Teachers will teach them how to read and write at school!
Personally and Emotionally Getting Ready for School
Aside from intellectually getting ready for school, there are also important aspects to consider such as interpersonal relationships and maturity. Personal preparedness for school involves a set of considerations such as:
- motivation to learn: Does the child wants to go to school? Do they understand the importance of the learning process? Are they interested in acquiring new knowledge?
- ability to behave according to the rules: Does the child have the capability to act in accordance with the school rules, even if the child does not want to? Does the child understand when rules need to be followed and that they should respect and listen to their teachers?
- self-control, proper behavior, ability to identify own mistakes and correct them. Can the child sit still for multiple hours and behave? If the child makes a mistake, do they have the emotional maturity and insight to realize it and apologize? Most importantly, can they learn from their mistake and not repeat it?
According to many scientists and practitioners, it is personal maturity that is the critical factor of a child’s readiness for school. The child’s desire to learn new things and their ability to manage activities and behavior will generally be proportional to the intellectual readiness of the child, and subsequently contribute to the sociometric status in the group. Personal maturity of a child includes the ability to fulfill the requirements of the teacher, and to control their own behavior.
Social and Communicative Readiness for School
Childrens’ adaptation to school depends largely on their ability to communicate with other children and teachers. Communication readiness includes the following:
- child’s willingness to communicate with other children, to participate in group activities, to accept opposite opinions and to obey the rules of children’s groups;
- the ability to initiate and maintain the activities of others, to negotiate and compromise, and to express a personal point of view;
- sufficient emotional stability and self-regulation — ability to adequately assess the situation and constructively express own emotions in communication with others while reducing the number of impulsive reactions.
Obviously no first-grader will be completely emotionally mature, but in general it is important that the child is not at a significantly different level than their peers. Remember that there will definitely be social challenges no matter what, so try to patient and help your child be patient at first.
Psychological and Physical Readiness for School
In addition to all the above, the psychological readiness of the child to school will be influenced by the physiological factors:
- development of small muscles of the hand: how confident is the child with scissors and pencil?
- spatial orientation, coordination of movements: Can the child correctly determine the relative positions of objects and movement directions: higher-lower, more-less, forward-backward?
- motor dexterity, including different motor skills such as running, jumping, tying shoelaces, etc.
- lateralization (which hand is leading) that affects the orientation in space and on the paper. Does the child know left and right?
- visual-motor coordination in the eye-hand system: can the child can draw simple shapes that are recognizable?
Considering the above, school readiness is a combination of skills and abilities that characterize the maturity of the child and their ability to socialize appropriately and do various learning exercises. However, a child will face emotional and psychological challenges in the case of the absence of some of the previously discussed crucial skills.
If you clearly understand that your child lacks some of the skills mentioned previously, make every effort you can to help them with the development of such skills before your kid enters school.
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Don’t forget that although this can be a challenging time, it is also one of the most exciting times!