Friday, 6 October 2017

School Readiness

It seems that with every passing year December seems to arrive quicker.  Admittedly I too have been caught a bit off guard this year and this post on school readiness should have gone out two months ago.  I am not alone here as there has only now been an influx of school readiness assessments.

The final term is generally daunting as little ones begin to understand more and more the move that will happen in the new year; even if they are staying within the same school, there will be a shift to another part of the school, a new uniform, a new bag – lots of newness.  Which applies to the parents too: whether it is your first child or not, the move into grade one is big.  Apart from all the talk and shopping about the new year, the final term is filled with assessments to ensure the littlies are ready.  What happens to those who are not?

Generally, an independent school readiness assessment is suggested to find out where the underlying pitfalls may be (poor colouring may be due to poor fine motor development, lowered muscle tone, eye sight, motivation or simply just not an activity that is enjoyed). The scoring procedures are used to determine objectively where a child’s current level of development is and options provided to overcome or at least close the gaps between age and performance.

Parents are often upset to be told late in the year that there is a possibility their child will not be ready for grade one the following year.  Unfortunately, it is a difficult course to navigate because a few months makes a huge difference in a young child’s development and areas which may have been identified as weak in April, are found to be within age appropriate ranges in September.

There is a tendency to focus on the academics, however, the emotional and physical development are just as important.  Children who are emotionally young tend to struggle with the volume or pace of work, even if they are cognitively capable; the more structured environment with less free time may also be difficult for them to accept.  Children who are less co-ordinated may also struggle with the pace or volume of work as their little bodies tire more quickly than their peers; they may be less co-ordinated and battle with the games at play time resulting in disagreements or avoidance of the game.  This last example may result in feelings of isolation or not ‘fitting in’ which, if perpetuated, can negatively impact on the academics.

Knowing where your child is emotionally, cognitively and physically can make the rest of this fascinating, exciting, scary time a bit more manageable.