Australia has one of the youngest school-starting ages in the world. Yet we shouldn’t really think about school-readiness in chronological terms. Little Ava next door who will be 5 in April might be just as ready to run through the school-gates as Johnny who repeated 4 year old kinder and will be turning 7 in Prep. So what’s the difference between Ava and Johnny and how do we know if they are really ready for school?
Well, my experience working with many Prep teachers over the past 15 or so years has taught me that social-emotional skills are really important. A child who can read all their ‘golden’ words and write the alphabet upon school-entry is great, but if they’re unable to maintain composure when they don’t get their way or resort to aggression in response to having to share the monkey bars, then the school day is going to be tricky for all involved.
The National Childcare Accreditation Council highlights the social skills our children need to have before starting school:
- Positively approach other children and make friends;
- Participate in play;
- Participate in play;
- Express emotions and deal with conflict appropriately;
- Show interest in others and form friendships;
- Epress their needs and wants appropriately;
- Separate from parents or primary carers;
- Take turns in games and activities;
- Share toys and equipment;
- Follow some directions and understand some rules;
- Participate in groups;
- Cope with transitions between routines and experiences
How does your littlie go with these skills? If you think your child might need a helping hand to get ready for school next year, give us a call for an individualised, school-readiness behaviour skills program, or to discuss our school-readiness groups.
There’s actually no evidence to support the idea that starting school earlier is better. So for children who are in the grey area, with parents anxiously deliberating whether or not to send them off to Prep or keep them back for another year, there is a general consensus that there is no rush to starting school. Anecdotally, you may have heard of the term ‘Redshirting‘, or the practice of postponing entrance into school to allow extra time for socioemotional, intellectual, or physical growth—a movement apparently popular with the Upper East Side mums of Manhattan. Or, if you’re like the rest of us without the vintage Hermès Birkin, that means another year up your sleeve to keep reading, going on excursions together, playing with letters and numbers, singing songs and arranging play dates to work on those ever-evolving social skills!
Amanda Abel – Paediatric Psychologist MAPS
Photo credit: Phil Roeder