It’s that time of the year when most parents of preschoolers are just done with school admissions for their young ones. In India, especially, the rat race begins young. The need to get your child enrolled in the school of your choice becomes a priority when kids reach the appropriate age to begin formal schooling. In all this chaos we could often forget the important question ‘Is my child school-ready?’. After all, starting school is a huge step for parents and children and comes with demands of adjustment and readiness.

As parents, we have our own anxieties about sending our children to school for the first time. When we prepare our child with the right skills, we can be assured of their positive experience at school.  Read on to find out if your budding student is ready and how you can help make those first big steps into school.

What Is School Readiness? 

Almost all countries demand by law, that children are enrolled in schools by a particular age. While an age milestone is one part of being ready for school, our children also need to have the appropriate emotional, social and cognitive skills to be set for school. This is termed school readiness. It is important our little champs have developed communication, behaviour and social skills so they can thrive at school. In this article, we will discuss some of the signs of school readiness for children between the ages of 4-5.

Communication: A school is a big place and your child will be on their own once you drop them off at those mighty gates. Being able to successfully communicate and interact with others will be a necessary skill that will help your child settle in school. Your child must be comfortable talking and interacting with other children as well as adults. This will not only help them with having their needs addressed but also help them make friends, get along with peers, navigating conflicts; all the important factors that make school enjoyable. 

potty training child reading a bookIndependence: School is very different from daycare or playschool, especially with the ratio of adult: children. It is critical that our child has developed a certain level of independence if they have to be comfortable at school. This will include

  • Independence in eating, so they can have their snack at school
  • Independently use the toilet which is a requirement in most schools
  • Comfortable being away from parents for a few hours, as separation anxiety can make it much harder to adjust to a new school and environment
  • Identify and take care of their belongings

Sitting Tolerance: Learning methods have been adapted to suit young children and their abilities. Most of the learning happens through art, play, activities, music etc. However, to partake and benefit from these activities, children in school should be able to sit still and listen for a certain period of time. This is called sitting tolerance. 15-20 minutes is a good time to start with.

Emotional and Social Skills: Being able to connect with other children is an important aspect of success at school. Is your child able to make friends with other children, play cooperatively, take turns, manage his big feelings? While your child may not display all the above skills, it is important they have the building blocks of socialization and emotional development.stubborn child in front of blackboardCognitive Skills: A school is a place for learning. While your child may not know their A-Z or their numbers, they should be showing an inclination and interest in learning. Do they ask questions, or show interest in recognizing letters, or like counting, attempt reading or delight at the sight of a pencil? These are important learning skills that they display when they’re ready for schooling.  Equally important is the ability to follow 2-3 steps instructions, pay attention, focus adequately so they can complete activities in the classroom 

Remember school readiness does not mean the academic readiness of your child being able to read or write. It is their social, behavioural and emotional development that is equally crucial to success at school. It is these qualities that can help them transition to the new and at times challenging environment at school. You are your child’s first teacher and you know your child best. If you are concerned about your child’s readiness for school, talk to your doctor about their development or reach out to a therapist who can help.