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How do I know if my child is ready for school?

Updated: Apr 14, 2022

Starting school is a huge milestone for you and your child and the child’s success or failure in adapting to primary school is crucial. But do we really know if the child is even ‘ready’ for this transition?

What is ‘school readiness’?

School readiness is the measure of the skills and behaviors the child has developed that enables them to participate and succeed in school. School readiness does not only refer to academic (literacy and numeracy skills) but the overall developmental skills of your child- their social, emotional, play, physical-motor, communication and cognitive skills.

Research shows that disregarding these key developmental skills may cause the child to: struggle with academics, develop defiant behaviors, experience difficulty managing daily routines, difficulty taking care of their things and not able to make friends. In fact, the children who start school when they are ‘ready’ have been more successful with school transition.

How can you tell if your child is ‘ready’? Here are a few signs we can look out for:

Language and communication skills

  • Being able to talk and listen to adults and other children

  • Being able to follow 3-step instructions and understand basic concepts

  • Being able to communicate needs

  • Being able to identify some letters and sounds

Social skill

  • Being able to take turns, play with other children and share things with others

  • Being able to demonstrate basic manners unprompted

    • E.g. say please, thank you and sorry

  • Being able to be assertive when necessary and also able to follow another’s lead

  • Able to read the situation to accurately interpret others’ reactions to their behaviors

Emotional maturity

  • Being able to manage their emotions

  • Being able to separate from parent or peers

  • Able to recognize their feelings and others’ feelings

  • Able to follow home and school routines with ease

Cognitive Skills

  • Having basic number sense

  • Being able to stay attentive and allows adult to guide actions when learning a new activity

  • Being able to wait and take turns

  • Being able to manage their needs without much adult supervision

Physical motor skills

  • Able to maintain good posture and balance during physical activity

  • Has the necessary fine motor skills such as being able to grip a pencil, tie shoelaces, turn pages in a book)

  • Has an adequate level of physical coordination such as being able to run, jump, climb, and play ball

We also need to keep in mind that every child develops at a different pace so there is no timeline to when your child may be ‘ready’ for school. So don’t worry if your child doesn’t demonstrate all of these essential ‘school readiness’ skills and behaviors described above. Instead, let's get them the support they need.

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