What is School Readiness and why is it important?
School Readiness is a widely used term referring to a child’s preparedness for any easy and successful transition to formal schooling. However, a quality school readiness program should not replicate a day at a typical school; this approach is supported by a growing evidence base and is also supported by teachers within school settings. Instead of teaching children academic skills, Early Years educators agree that it’s much more important for children to develop social, emotional and physical skills whilst instilling a natural curiosity and love of learning. By providing children with these foundation skills and establishing connections between families and schools, children will have the best opportunity to adjust to a school environment and reach their learning potential.
How can you tell if your child is ready for school?
All children develop at their own rate and there are many variables to consider within a school readiness framework. However generally speaking, children will transition well into a school environment if they:
- Can cope easily when expectation is placed upon them
- Are able to follow a simple three to four step instruction related to daily activities
- Can carry out self-care tasks with minimal support from an adult
- Are daytime toilet trained
- Interact well socially with their peers
If your child is having difficulty with any of the above, they may benefit from being enrolled in a high-quality early learning program before starting school.
Encouraging children to develop a love of learning
At the age of two, children enter a critical stage of brain development allowing them to learn faster than at any other period in their life. A quality School Readiness program can take advantage of this phase by ensuring children develop the foundation skills required for future education and building a lasting love of learning. This is achieved through encouraging enquiry, curiosity and problem-solving skills through play.
Building foundation learning skills through play
Many experiences in a play-based learning setting are designed to introduce and develop early literacy, maths and science concepts. For example, measuring, sorting, weighing and other mathematics and science concepts can be developed through cooking, water play, mud kitchen and sand pit play. Building and construction can be investigated through loose parts play. Planning and sequencing can be practiced through packing lunch boxes, lining up, and group games. Storytime sessions can help develop language, storytelling and name recognition. And mark making can be practiced through painting and other artistic expression.
Developing physical skills
Development of gross and fine motor skills will help children acquire the physical abilities required for a school environment, such as using scissors, holding a pencil or sitting in a chair or mat for long periods. Core strength is so important to children’s success at school and can be developed in an Early Years setting through activities such as climbing, balancing, yoga and dancing. Fine motor skills can be developed by practicing with pencil grip, scissors, using tools, and through craft activities such as threading and play dough manipulation.
Emotional and social skills
The number one concern for parents and caregivers when their child is starting school is often around whether they will make friends easily and emotionally cope in a new environment. Building social and emotional skills such as self-regulation, resilience and independence from an early age will have many benefits to children embarking on a big transitional stage such as starting school. Building emotional intelligence extends to interpersonal skills such as kindness, empathy and teamwork, which can be developed through a range of activities such as games and play encouraging sharing and turn-taking, role-playing about conflict resolution and talking about kindness and emotions as a group. Resilience can be encouraged through engaging in measured risk taking through play and supporting children to be adaptable and flexible to change. Rituals such as self-help during drop off, dining, sleep preparation and hand washing will help build independence and a sense of agency. Children should be encouraged to make their own choices and decisions, whilst feeling comfortable and supported to ask educators for help when needed.
Connecting children, schools and families
Building quality connections with local schools ensures continuity of learning, a smooth transition for children and a sense of belonging for families. This might include provision of school uniforms for children to try on, excursions to local schools, transition to school information sessions for families, inviting teachers and school staff into the service, supplying transition to school reports for teachers and holding end of year graduation ceremonies. Children should be supported during their transition to ensure continuity of care as they embark on their journey into formal schooling.
Three Plus School Readiness at Keiki Early Learning
Keiki Early Learning focuses on developing all of the core skills children will need for a happy and successful transition to school, through a play-based learning led by a qualified Early Childhood Teacher and supported by experienced educators. Give your children space to grow at their own pace with our dedicated Three Plus School Readiness program, proven since 2003 to enable children to become confident, independent, and resilient individuals capable of excelling in the classroom and beyond. Contact us today to find out more.