As your little explorers gear up for their first school adventure, you might find yourself wondering: What exactly is school readiness, and how can we ensure our favourite tiny scholars are ready to conquer the world of education? We have created a school readiness checklist to give your child the best possible preparation for their schooling career, with all of our best insider tips!
What is School Readiness?
School readiness is quite simple - it’s skills to help you be ready for tasks required in a school environment. It goes beyond being able to put shoes onto feet, which is usually what parents think of when it comes to school readiness. It involves social and emotional maturity skills, physical skills, language skills and cognitive ability, as well as independence and confidence and language skills.
A School Readiness Checklist
At Beelieve Paediatric Therapy we have created a school readiness checklist you can print off as you practice these skills with your child.
It's not just about knowing their ABCs or 123s! Social skills are the unsung heroes of school readiness and help prepare your child for new and potentially uncomfortable situations. Encourage your kids to engage in playdates, share toys, and practice taking turns. This is a chance to help them, and be there with them as they practice these essential social skills we all need. Practice is key here - it gives your child experiences and exposure with a safe person supporting them, so that when they enter the school yard they feel able to manage social situations themselves. Another great way can be practicing the language to initiate play with peers eg. “can I play with you?” You can practice this with your child and then go to the park or a playgroup and they can practice with other kids.
Teaching our little ones to express their feelings is like giving them a superpower cape. Equip them with the ability to identify and communicate emotions – a crucial skill for navigating the ups and downs of school life. Talk to them about feelings and emotions, and practice making the faces that match those emotions. Can your child ‘read’ your face and label their perception of your emotion? How would they act if someone was pulling that face at them? Can they match the facial expression? Do they have a go-to strategy they use to calm their body? This is great to practice prompting them to try their strategy first by themselves or model it with them at home when they are angry or upset so they can practice this themselves and let their teacher know.
Physical Health and Coordination
A healthy body supports a healthy mind! Activities like hopping, skipping, and jumping not only keep those little legs moving but also enhance coordination and motor skills. It's all about getting those wiggles out, and practicing understanding where their body fits in space. Engage in plenty of outdoor play and vary the playgrounds that you expose your children to, so they have a range of play apparatus to try out.
Don’t forget natural landscapes are just as effective - throwing stones into water, clambering over rocks, climbing trees, all provide your children with great muscle building and physiological awareness.
Language is the key to unlocking the magic of learning. Encourage chatter, read stories, and indulge in imaginative conversations. The more words they hear, the more words they'll use when sharing their own thoughts and ideas. Can your child imagine where the people in the car next to you are driving to, what they might be talking about, or what they had for breakfast? Language building can be fun and silly!
Receptive Language - Understanding
It's not just about talking; it's about listening too! Engage in conversations with your little ones, ask questions, and encourage them to listen actively. This helps develop their receptive language skills – the foundation for understanding instructions in the classroom. You might like to try creating a treasure hunt where your child has to listen to your clues to find a prize.
Expressive Language (Using Language)
Expressing oneself is an art. Foster this skill by providing opportunities for your children to tell stories, share experiences, and engage in creative expression. The more they practice, the more eloquent and confident communicators they'll become.
Puzzles, sorting games, and building blocks are more than just playtime activities – they're brain boosters! Aside from being great practice at cognitive skills, they also provide a chance to practice fine motor skills, as well as those social skills relating to turn taking and winning or losing kindly.
Unleash the power of independence by encouraging your kiddos to do things on their own. From putting on their shoes to zipping up their jackets, these small triumphs build confidence and self-reliance.
We suggest you practice things like pulling up pants after toileting, opening and closing their own lunchbox - anything that they might need to be able to do independently. Aside from giving them that confidence that they do know how to do these things, you’re helping further develop fine motor skills.
And when it comes to the big day? Let them carry their bag in themselves! Start teaching your children to look after their own belongings and that you are not solely in charge of making sure their things are where they need to be. Let them unpack their bags and put their lunchboxes or water bottles away, so that when you aren’t there next to them, they have memory of where their belongings are, minimising potential stress.
What Can You Do to Help (Check Out Our School Readiness Checklist!)
Start the school readiness journey early! Introduce a consistent routine, so your little ones know what to expect. Practice getting dressed, brushing teeth, packing a backpack, and even a mini school lunch. Familiarity breeds comfort, and will help your child settle into their new routine faster.
Books: Sitting and Listening as Part of Group Time
Curl up with your little one and dive into the magical world of books. Make reading a group activity, encouraging your child to sit and listen patiently. This not only enhances their attention span but also fosters a love for stories and learning. You can also help them practice expressive language skills by asking them to re-tell you the story when they have finished listening to it, or you might like to ask them midway through a new story what they think might happen next.
Reading Area/Corner Ideas
Create a cozy reading nook at home with soft cushions, blankets, and, of course, a stash of delightful books. This designated space makes reading time special and reinforces the idea that learning is a joyous adventure. We also love it when a special children’s corner includes sensory play opportunities, with tactile equipment to practice counting and sorting.
Learning happens everywhere! Take your children on outings to parks, museums, and libraries. These adventures not only expose them to new experiences but also teach them about the world around them – a perfect complement to what they'll discover in the classroom. Practicing toileting habits too will be invaluable here - going to the toilet before you start an activity, or once you have finished an activity is a great skill to reinforce to avoid accidents in the classroom.
Why is School Readiness Important?
School readiness is the key that unlocks a world of possibilities for your little ones. It's not just about preparing them academically; it's about fostering a love for learning, building confidence, and nurturing the social and emotional skills that will serve as their compass through the exciting journey of education.
As your little scholars gear up for their big adventure, remember: you're not alone. We are here ready to support you (and don’t forget to download our School Readiness Checklist!) with our tips and tricks for school readiness! With a sprinkle of patience, a dash of creativity, and a whole lot of love, you'll be guiding them toward success in no time. Here's to the joyous, giggly, and wonder-filled world of school readiness!