Following on from our fact-sheet about preparing for kindergarten, below we continue to explore the questions that most parents explore School readiness in regards to deciding if their children are actually ready for school.
What is school-readiness?
School-readiness refers to the point at which a child is considered “ready” to enter the formal education system.
In previous generations, a child was considered “school ready” when she passed a certain age (for example, if she turns 5 before July 31).
Now, however, an increasing number of parents and schools are rethinking the idea of age-based “school-readiness”. Instead, they believe a child is school ready when she is academically, socially, physically, and emotionally ready to cope with the demands of the classroom and the playground.
To help parents decide if their child is ready for school, or for a new level of school such as Middle school or Secondary school, here are some things to keep in mind.
If you’re sending your child to Kindergarten, ask yourself:
- How well does my child socialize in comparison to same-aged peers?
- Can my child sit and focus when given an activity?
- Does my child respond to set boundaries?
If you’re sending your child to secondary school, ask yourself:
- Is my child mature or immature in comparison to peers?
- Is my child organized and motivated?
- How does my child feel about changing schools?
While it’s impossible to predict any child’s future, it’s important to consider if your child’s development puts her in a position to follow this timeline, or if it puts her in a position where at some point she is likely to be overwhelmed and falling behind.
As repeating grades is not recommended due to the impact of self esteem and friendships, delaying your child’s entry to Kindergarten, Middle School, or Secondary School may be your only chance to ensure that her schooling is appropriate for her development.
Research your child’s school
Before you decide whether or not to send your child to school, it’s a good idea to get a sense of the demands she’ll face by meeting with potential teachers, talking to parents at the school gate and observing students in potential playgrounds.
You are also encouraged to research the school curriculum, standardized testing such as the NAPLAN and the daily routines of the classroom. Ask an administrator at a local school, or contact your school board, to find out these details.
Assess your child’s skills
A child’s development is typically assessed in term of these four (4) categories: academic, social, physical and emotional.
If your child is developing at a similar rate to her peers in these four categories, you may wish to consider advancing her through school on a typical timeline. Children with significant developmental challenges, however, may have difficulty keeping up with their peers. In this case, it may be best to delay starting school until she can successfully cope with the common demands of school life.
At any new school level, your child will have to cope with academic demands.
- Is your child interested in learning?
- How developed are her language and communication skills?
- Does she seem interested in reading, writing, mathematics or creative activities?
- Can she pay attention and sit still for a (relatively) long period of time?
- Does your child show patterns of friendship that are age appropriate?
- Can she cope with conflict?
- How will your child react to unstructured play time at recess and lunch (for Kindergarten) or interacting with students outside her class (secondary school)?
Think about the emotional demands that will be required of your child at the new school level, and ask yourself if she can meet them.
- How does your child cope with setbacks or frustration?
- How often does she require comforting or reassurance?
- How independent is your child when eating, using the toilet, or getting dressed?
Consider your child’s gross and fine motor skills in relation to the physical tasks required by the new level of school. Can she independently do zippers or buttons to manage her school uniform?
- How does she find writing or using a keyboard? Does she have any disability or illness that will affect how she adjusts to school life?
Many children with difficulties in one or more of these four key areas may benefit from starting school at the typical time for their age group if their challenge is effectively addressed either in or out of the classroom.
For example, a child with physical challenges may “catch up” with regular visits with an Occupational Therapist. Social issues are best managed by a Child Psychologist. If you feel your child can handle the demands of school overall, but needs help with one specific area, it might be a good idea to seek support to address any challenges.
Talk to your child’s other caregivers and/or educators
If you’re not sure about your child’s developmental patterns, some of the most useful sources of information are staff at your child’s current school or pre-school. These professionals not only spend a lot of time with your child, but with many other children of the same age.
Get your child tested
If you have significant concerns about your child’s development, it can be a good idea to have your child assessed to measure where she is falling compared to her peers.
Standardized testing such as using the Griffiths Mental Development Scales (GMDS), Bayley Scales of Infant Development (BSID-III), Stanford Binet (Early SB5) or Wechsler (WPPSI – III) Intelligence Scales will break down different aspects of your child’s development, showing her strengths and weaknesses, as well as normative scores for her age.
If you have any questions or queries about standardized developmental assessments, please give us a call at the Quirky Kid Clinic on 9362 9297.
Information in this factsheet was obtained from interviews with Psychologist Belinda Jones and Kimberley O’Brien from the Quirky Kid clinic.
Commencing kindergarten is a very exciting and sometimes scary time for children and parents alike. To ensure your child has an enjoyable and successful transition to school it is important to allow yourself and your child plenty of time to prepare. Below are some tips to assist you.
Things to consider when choosing a school for your child
- Does your child have any specific interests that you would like the school to nurture? This may include sports, music, or languages,
- What facilities does the school provide that will assist your child to reach their full potential?
- Does the school offer any transition to school programs, to assist children and parents to settle into the new community?
- Does the school share the same values as your family with regard to attitude, beliefs, and behaviour? This may include their policies towards punctuality and dress code,
- Do you have religious beliefs, or educational philosophies that you would like the school to share?
- Consider if you have a preference for single sex or co-ed.
- The distance between your home and the school is another important decision, it is important to also consider how your child will get to school.
- Finally, if your child has already established friendships, consider where they are going. Knowing someone at their new school will assist your child in their transition to kindergarten.
Preparing for school
- To ensure your child has an enjoyable and easy transition to school talk to your child about what to expect at school. This includes:
- Talking about the children they already know who will be starting school with them, what it will be like to make new friends, and the many games and activities they will be able to take part in.
- Discussing with your child who will pick them up from school, and reassuring them that someone will be there on time to collect them.
- Practice using their new school bag and lunch box before their first day at school. This will allow your child to get use to opening and closing them, so that it will not be difficult for them when they are at school.
- Practice putting on their school shoes and uniform jacket prior to starting school. This will help them to get use to doing it for themselves.
This is a special time for parents and children, and we hope you enjoy this stage of development with your child.
The Quirky Kid Clinic has social skills and communication program, The Best of Friends™ that assist children and developing key skills prior to kinder garden:
The Quirky Kid Shoppe is full of useful resources. Below are some recommended resources by our psychologists:
Information for this fact sheet was taken from an interview with Child Psychologist Kimberley O’Brien, the Raising Children Network website and the following article.
Chandler, L,K. (1993). Steps in Preparing for Transition: Preschool to Kindergarten. Teaching Exceptional Children. Volume 25, page 52-55.
Exams are a time when students of all ages feel more stressed than usual. Stress can also be positive thing as it aids motivation and concentration. However too much stress can make a young person feel overwhelmed, confused, exhausted and edgy and consequently produce a negative impact on study results.
Exam anxiety is a natural reaction to too much pressure and can come from a number of sources including: young people themselves; comparisons with others; wanting to reach too ambitious goals; family members; peers or teachers.
Symptoms of Exam Anxiety
Signs your child may be experiencing exam anxiety include:
- Being cranky and irritable;
- Sleeping difficulties;
- Complaints of chest pains and/or nausea;
- Low self-esteem;
- Losing touch with friends;
- Difficulty getting motivated.
Suggestions for managing exam stress
- Effective Study habits: Effective study and learning habits can help to reduce exam stress in students of all ages. The Quirky Kid Clinic runs a study skills program to help students learn these skills
- Diet: Ensure your child is eating regular healthy meals throughout the exam period, drinking lots of water, and that they are monitoring their caffeine or sugar intake.
- Lifestyle: Encourage your child to keep up leisure activities such as seeing friends, exercising, or even watching television, as these activities give the brain a much-needed break from studying, which will allow for more effective study in the future.
- Sleep: Encourage your child to stop studying at least one hour prior to going to bed, in order to help them unwind and have a more restful sleep.
- Relaxation: Relaxation techniques such as breathing and muscle exercises can help your child calm down and manage their stress symptoms in a range of environments and situations. Child Psychologists at the Quirky Kid Clinic can help your child with relaxation exercises in an individual consultation or during our Why Worry workshop.
Please contact our clinic to make an appointment if you believe your child would benefit from some assistance in dealing with exam stress.
Information for this fact sheet was taken from Kimberley O’Brien, Child Psychologist, ReachOut .com, ParentLine and Kids Help Line}
The Quirky Kid Clinic is proud to be one of the contributor to the news contributor to the School A to Z produced by the NSW Department of Education and Communities.
The website is aiming to create an online community with comprehensive homework and ‘school life’ support for parents that is easy to use, relevant and engaging.
Kimberley O’Brien, our principal child psychologist, participated as an expert contributor, among many other professionals, and collaborated on “How to parent your tween‘ and ‘Sexting – what every parent should know‘
The Quirky Kid is committed in developing well informed and practical content for parents and families. You can find useful, practical and informative advice about parenting and young people by visiting our resources page, – or discussing it on our forum. You can also provide your own opinion on our Facebook page or Twitter at @quirky_kid
Recently, Kimberley O’Brien discussed ‘transition to school’and the pressures children and teenagers face at school particularly as they head into Year 6, 7 and 12 with MTR 1377 Talk Show Presenter Colette Mann, from Melbourne
This was an interesting conversation and you can listen to the podcast by clicking below:
You can further participate on the discussion by visiting our Forum – The Quirky Kid Huddle – https://childpsychologist.com.au/forum}