School readiness is a new beginning, not only for the youngest ones, but also for their carers. It is in the nature of each parent to provide their child with the right gear to overcome this stage successfully. Our usual answer to the question “How can I rest assured that my child is ready for school?” encourages parents to check that skills and abilities are properly developed instead of ticking down boxes of concepts their child can name. Sometimes, despite our recommendations, parents feel more assured of the school-readiness of their child in terms of abilities to enumerate concepts related to formal knowledge. Although we do not view the concepts below as essential, while compared to the skills and abilities a child should develop until they are ready for school, we would like to list a few ideas that might offer guidance to parents.
Inspiration for new beginnings
Entering school equates cognitive, emotional and motivational change.
In the paragraphs below, we would like to introduce you to a few basic ideas that may provide you with clues as to your child’s school readiness from a physical, social and intellectual point of view.
Being familiar to home and family
Families are the main source of love, care, knowledge and support for understanding. Therefore, the child needs to be familiar to the structure of his family, be aware of his parents’ workplaces, and those of grandparents and close family. His classmates, friends, neighbors, teachers are also part of the group of close acquaintances, therefore the child should be able to name certain details related to them. His town, neighborhood, his address, telephone number are all equally important.
Where we are in time and space
The sequence of the day, the passage of time by comparing the present day to the previous day and to the next, naming days of the week, months of the year and seasons with their respective changes in nature, all of these are milestones which help the child understand time. Positioning in time and space includes naming their town or city, area and county, country and even, continent, for some.
Positional language, including naming „left/right”, „up/down”, „ front/back”, „above/below” is part of the language acquisition that is associated with the development of a child in school.
When a child acknowledges spatial and positional awareness, they become able to anticipate key events in school, which makes them adjust easier to a new environment, to the changes associated with the beginning of school.
Recognizing and naming features and shapes in the surrounding environment
Naming parts of the body, clothing items, means of transportation, animals and their characteristics, food groups, animals/grains/vegetables and their by-products e.g. wheat->flour->bread or chicken->egg are all included in the knowledge of the immediate environment.
Sizes („big/small”, „short/long”), colors, weight („heavy/light”), temperatures, spatial positioning („up/down”, „near/far”, „here/there”, „under/over”), textures („smooth/rough”) help enrich a child’s vocabulary and use different words in different contexts.
A small word bank of synonyms/antonyms should also be taught to the child, without naming them as such. These additions to the vocabulary will help the child build successful communication.
Logical and mathematical thinking processes
Ordering objects from large to small and the other way round, imitating and generating patterns and sequences of 3 and more objects, number symbol recognition within the limits 1-30 and even beyond are just a few fundamental props on which the school will build further, in order to strengthen the ability to synthesize, compare and contrast, sort and group. All of these will prove to be paramount during school years.
Emotional and physical well-being
As the child starts to build on his gross motor skills (climbing, crawling, running, walking, throwing) as well as his fine motor skills (tearing, handling tools, folding), he is actually developing his coordination and thinking processes. The overall picture is that of a child who is physically healthy, manages his sensory development and thrives in all aspects of his development.
Physical health and positive experiences accumulated during their infant and toddler years ensure good emotional balance and help the child express their needs and wants appropriately, as well as their thoughts and emotions.
Emotional well-being brings about a certain degree of social maturity which can be measured according to the child’s competence in acquiring norms of acceptable social interactions, in establishing interpersonal relationships, in helping his peers, and in taking active part in communal projects.
Communication, attention and concentration span
During the first years of a child’s life, language may take on many forms and its acquisition takes place in different contexts. When a child enters school, they need to start using coherent, expressive spoken language, in time, even grammatically correct language. In Questfield School, we believe that the level of language development equates the level of thought process development. Therefore, the more complex a child’s language is, the more complex his thinking patterns are.
When the child is able to break the message down correctly, using minimal abilities of communication, listening, understanding, concentrating, as a consequence, the child is able to act and fulfill the request of the adult. All the abilities are molded into shape both at home and in school, and during this process, the child begins to understand the importance of verbalizing, listening and making conversation exchanges.
Attention and concentration span are consequences of a harmonious development from the physical and psychological point of view. Should maintaining concentration span become an issue, games and informal practice can come into action, using the child’s favorite games and pastimes to build concentration.
At Questfield School, we believe that knowledge gained in academic development should be build on the basics laid by attitudes and skills. Thus, academic knowledge which will be acquired later on has a higher rate of retention. More details on building skills and attitudes for school readiness – in this article.
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