Knowing when your child is ready to head off to “big school” can be a tricky one, especially if your child’s birthday falls in the early half of the year.
Age-wise your child may be ready to start school – but are they really ready?
Some children may be ready at around 4.5 years whereas some may be better off being held until they are closer to 6.
Many parents think it’s about how well they can read or write but there is so much more that goes into determining if a child is school-ready. Emotional and social factors are often considered more important indicators at this age.
However, this isn’t a decision you should really make alone, speak with your child’s pre-school teacher or reach out to the school and see what they advise based on their professional opinion and observations of your child.
Here are some questions to ask yourself (or your child’s teacher) when making the decision. Don’t worry if you don’t answer yes to all of these, they are just a guide.
1. How are their communication skills? Can your child follow simple directions? They probably won’t all the time and that’s ok but as long as they can listen and understand instructions.
2. How does your child handle separation when you leave them at pre-school for the day?
3. Can they sit still? Again this doesn’t need to be all the time but as long as they can sit for small pockets of time to listen to a story or a simple activity.
4. Can they use the bathroom independently? Knowing when they need to go and being able to manage it by themselves is important.
5. Can they recognise some letters and numbers? They don’t need to be able to read yet but they should have some knowledge and interest.
6. How are their fine and gross motor skills? Running, jumping, throwing, kicking – as well as holding a pencil and cutting with scissors are all important skills.
7. How are their social skills? How do they get along with and interact with their peers? How are they with sharing and taking turns? (But don’t worry they don’t have to have mastered sharing just yet – that can take years for some)
8. How do they manage their emotions? This is a big one in deciding their readiness for school. It’s normal for them to still have big emotions and impulses at this age but how do they handle them is important.
9. How interested in learning and school are they? Are they excited by the idea of going to school?
10. Is your child used to a group learning environment with other children – are they in pre-school or do they have opportunities for play and interaction with other children?
Ultimately, as with anything when it comes to parenting you should trust your gut, no one knows your child better than you. Just remember to check the age-based regulations within your state as it does vary depending on where you live.