Congratulations....... you have made it through the terrible 2’s the thriving 3’s and the questioning 4’s and are now preparing your 5 year old for the transition to BIG SCHOOL….
We often get asked "is my child ready for school?" and it is usually accompanied by "my child can write their name and count to 100!!!" Hmmmm impressive..... We would usually respond with that’s great but can your child
Separate easily when left at preschool or day care
Can your child look after their belongings
Can your child share and take turns
Can your child connect with people and share their ideas
Can your child play co operatively with their peers
Can you child follow multi step instructions
Can your child manage using the toilet independently
That’s just to list a few….We as Early Childhood Professionals come from a social and emotional perspective when assessing whether a child is ready for the transition to school. Being cognitively ready is great but social/emotional maturity is the key and sets firm foundations for your child's future.
Now for some ideas on how to approach these key developmental areas
Ensure your child gets plenty of opportunities to socialise with a wide variety of people in varied scenarios
Invite friends over for play dates or visit friends in their homes or meet at the park, with different aged children.
Purchasing an ice block at the shops and talking to the shopkeeper
Encourage them to express their needs to Nanna when visiting
Encourage them to share some news or something special with their teacher on arrival at childcare
You will be able to assess where your child is at social by observing how they interact during the above situations and if they need to build on these skills practice, practice, practice.
In regards to emotional development how does your child cope with change in routine?
If he or she ‘goes with the flow’ and copes well. Congratulations!!
However, if your child goes to pieces and does not cope well, you have some work to do.
Remember to prepare you child for change by talking about what is going to be different and give them time to process the change and provide lots of opportunity for them to ask questions which will reassure them that all will be okay. If a change in routine is unexpected reassure your child that it is a one off or explain the situation so they feel reassured and comfortable.
Does your child confidently explore and engage in a wide variety of activities?
At this age they should be extending their concentration and engaging in their interests for extended periods of time, building with blocks and Lego and making intricate and detailed constructions, drawing with increased detail and able to describe their drawing, completing complex puzzles with little or no help from an adult, play board games with rules and cope with not always winning, explore ideas using their imagination and creativity, engage in problem solving and use reflective thinking to consider why, what and where.
Take risks physically! Now this is a big one as we don't want them to hurt themselves but at this age they like to physically challenge themselves to see how far they can push themselves, so allow them when you are at the park to climb a little higher on the climbing frame, swing a little higher on the swing or run a little faster on the path as this will give them a rush of excitement and make them feel really good about themselves.
We all want the best for our children and if we allow them a little room to grow independence and confidence, which are all life skills, as parents and educators we will have prepared your child for school with a positive attitude towards learning and a positive self esteem.