Will Your Child Be Ready To Start School?
The time when children are considered ready to start school, whether it be preschool, or kindergarten, is usually decided on the basis of age. This is generally when children, by law, are allowed to enter a particular phase of education rather then when they are, in reality, really ready, physically, mentally, emotionally, and psychologically.
There are a few guidelines which you can use to determine if your children are ready to start school, irrespective of the age, at which they will be allowed to start. Their readiness will determine their success, their enjoyment, and the ease with which they will slide into a system which will be a major part of their lives for the next eighteen or more years. It Is worth considering the following.
1. Can your child sit quietly for at least five to ten minutes, either listening to a story, to music, or to a visiting guest? They should be able to do this without fidgeting, bothering others, interrupting or leaving their seat.
2. Can your child attend to their own personal needs? These involve dressing, eating, cleaning up their workspace, washing their hands, and using the toilet. They should be able to attend to these tasks totally independently, without reminders, encouragement, or assistance of any sort.
3. Can and will your child listen attentively, follow simple instructions, and follow through with the appropriate actions? Children must be able to do this as part of a group of children, not just when they are the only child present.
4. Is your child capable of expressing himself/herself verbally so that they can be understood by other children and adults? This involves having an age-appropriate vocabulary and patience.
5. Is your child mature enough socially and emotionally so that they do not resort to crying, screaming, and hitting as a way of handling new, and unusual situations and relationships?
6. Is your child able to share? This sharing covers toys, playground equipment, friends, and the teachers attention. They must also be able to wait and to take turns. Your child must not expect to monopolize the time of other students or of their teacher.
7. Can your child work or play independently for short periods of time.
8. Is your child completely toilet trained? This may seem a ridiculous concept to many but coming from a family of teachers and having been one myself, children entering the school system without being toilet trained are, unfortunately, far from rare. This is not to say there will not be the occasional accident. These are quite normal, but to send children to school, untrained is unacceptable.
If your child falls short in some of these categories, that is quite normal too. There is still time to prepare. If a child is not ready, it is better to wait a year, rather than to push them, too quickly, into a situation where they may flounder and fail. Children develop at different rates and come from different environments. If you do not, at present, have the opportunity to compare your child to others in their age group, make sure they have lots of opportunities to play with other children in a variety of situations, even if this means enrolling them in a playschool. Watch their behavior and that of other children. You will soon see their strengths and weaknesses.
If you feel that your children are lacking in any aspect, physical, mental, or social, speak to your pediatrician. They will be able to either set your mind at ease or suggest resources that will help prepare your child for a happy and successful future in the education system.
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