I once knew a child who cried at the start of every school day.
Happily, most young kids seem to fit naturally into school. They are happy to say goodbye once they are dropped off in the morning, pleased to start their day at school. It is like a whole new world of interests has opened up for them.
But some children are not so lucky. They struggle to find confidence. They struggle to talk to others. They struggle with saying good bye to mum or dad. Their whole school day becomes a struggle.
Some of these children who struggle with the start of prep may not really be ready to start school at all. They may be better off waiting for another year.
Just because children fit into the right age bracket does not mean they are ready for school. In fact not all school systems even agree on what is the best age to start.
Depending on what country they are living in, most children begin schooling between the ages of 5 and 7.
School readiness is not about being “intelligent” enough to go to school. It is not so much the academic results that are of cause for concern. It is the child’s ability to cope with the demands of school that determine whether they are ready. The school system is designed to teach academic skills.
So when children arrive at school they need to be able to be independent enough to cope with the classroom environment.
They need to be able to:
- express themselves
- be responsible for their own belongings
- make their own friends
- be self-reliant.
It’s these factors which can profoundly influence children’s school experiences and can be the difference between making school pleasurable or unpleasant.
Think about it from this point of view. Look back at your own schooling and think about the things that upset you. Were they things that you could have dealt with better with a bit more life experience?
It is the emotional and social aspects of maturity that you should consider above academic criteria when it comes to school readiness.
If you are not sure if your child is ready to start school then speak to your child’s carer or kindergarten teacher. They should be able to give you an overview of your child’s behaviour and how they are coping. Often it is difficult for parents to have an objective view of their children’s interactions in the kindergarten.
Children can behave differently when their parents are in the same room. Your children’s teachers should be able to tell you how they behave and interact with others when you are not around.
If you think your child needs to repeat a year then it is best to do it in preschool. It is relatively common to repeat a kindergarten year. Once children are in the school system repeating a year can place a lot more stress on them.
After all, once they start school children are expected to grow up so quickly.