School Readiness – Preparing the Transition to School

preparing your child for the transition to school

School ‘readiness’ refers to how prepared your child is for school – preparation for transition from Kindy or daycare into primary school is essential for giving children the best possible start to their education and school live.

While preschool and kindergarten will set a comfortable foundation for your child’s introduction to learning, their day to day experience will mostly have been surrounding play, exploration, and curiosity, in a less structured environment than primary school. 

Being ready to start school goes beyond mastering the basics skills of reading, writing, or counting – it’s also about how prepared your child is to adapt to a new environment of learning that will carry on for the next decade.

What is school readiness?

School readiness refers to a specific set of skills that will be essential in helping your child adapt to their new learning environment in school. These skills range from understanding basic academic concepts like language and numeracy to playing well and socialising with others. 

Preparing a child for school by teaching these sets of skills can give them more confidence in the transition to school, as well as lay the foundations for learning in a classroom setting.

The importance of school readiness for children

Without the appropriate school readiness skills, children will find it challenging to learn and grow in their new environment, causing them to have to play “catch up” with the rest of their peers who have already been prepared for the level of learning and behaviour in schools. 

School readiness is a key factor that directly affects how well a child can learn, develop, and ultimately perform in school. As a result, many early childhood educators often emphasise its value and importance to parents of children that are soon to enter into the educational system.

Essential cognitive development for school readiness

In terms of the cognitive development, children will need to have a basic level of understanding in several key concepts before they will be able to grasp the skills that will prepare them for school:

school readiness infographic

Self regulation: Self-regulation is one of the biggest facets of cognitive development needed for school readiness — it covers the child’s ability to maintain and change emotions, thinking and attitude to match the behaviour that is required for the situation. In simple terms, it’s all about whether they can manage their own actions and behaviour. 

Speech and comprehension: In school, children will be faced with conversations from both educators and peers. Having an understanding of what’s being said around them, and how to respond and communicate back, will be critical in a school setting.

Executive functioning and logic: An area of development that helps children come to decisions and conclusions on their own, based on their circumstances. For example, being able to reason that they need to complete a certain assignment as homework or bring an item to school. 
Social skills: Making friends and having positive interactions with others is a core part of child development, especially in a classroom environment. This skill includes being able to understand and recognise social norms as well as how to best respond to them.

Assessing school readiness in your child

So, how do you know if your child is ready for school or not? Here are some signs that may indicate they may need more intentional preparation in terms of school readiness: 

infographic about school readiness
  • They have difficulty understanding the consequences of their behaviour.
  • They become easily distracted from tasks assigned to them when compared to their peers, indicating concentration or attention issues. 
  • They do not play or interact well with other children, often refusing to share or play according to the rules of a game.
  • They become frustrated quickly when a responsibility or expectation is given to them.
  • They are unable to communicate well with others or have issues with language comprehension. 
  • They are uninterested in taking part in new activities and/or developing new skills.
  • They are heavily reliant on parents or guardians to perform tasks like putting on shoes or feeding themselves.
infographics about school readiness
  • They have little interest in looking at books and/or doing sit-down activities.
  • They cannot go to the toilet by themselves during the day.

These behaviours alone do not mean that your child is not ready to start school – they may just require some additional preparation! Despite it being an exciting and engaging experience for children, starting school does require a certain level of maturity, independence, and social and practical skills needed for 5-6 year olds.

How to support your child’s transition to school

It’s normal for kids to display some hesitation when it’s time to go to school for the first time, as well as display some of the above behaviour as they adjust to their new learning environment. 

As a parent, the best thing you can do for your child as they approach the transition to school is to equip them with the right school readiness skills in advance so that they will have a good foundation to stand on when they eventually attend their first day of school. 

Here are some helpful activities that you can do with your child to support their school readiness:

school readiness infographic
  • Encourage independence at home: Communicate increased expectations to your child in their ability to perform simple self-care actions like dressing up, eating, and going to the toilet. Try to refrain from providing assistance to help them gain confidence. 
  • Arrange play dates: This gives your child ample opportunity to develop social and communication skills with their peers in a safe and supervised environment. 
  • Promote reading: Get your child excited and familiar with reading books — since they will be doing a lot of reading in school, this is a useful skill for them to practise and get good at.

Establish routines: Giving your child a schedule to stick to will help them understand the concept of time and focus for different tasks. This will be helpful in their adjustment to the structured classroom and lesson routine in school.