The first day for Grade 1 intakes is fast approaching, however, preparations to help kids become school ready should have started long before the first, big day. If your child has a few years to go before they enter the world of formal education, here are a few tips and guidelines about school readiness and how you can help to prepare your child for the start of Grade 1.
In South African schools, children should start Grade 1 in the year in which they turn 7. If parents feel that their children are ready to begin before this time, they are free to approach the school who will conduct a school readiness test and this assessment will determine if the child is emotionally ready to cope with the challenges of school. This test is also designed to help parents who feel that they children are not quite ready for Grade 1.
The school readiness test
During this assessment, the therapist conducting the test will ascertain the child’s readiness to attend school. The child will be given a battery of tests and the therapist will figure out the child’s personality type and their sensory processing capability. Other factors affecting the child’s readiness include, their current home situation, for instance, a child whose parents have recently divorced, or recently remarried may not be ready emotionally to deal with the added pressures of starting school. The child’s development and their early milestones will be looked at, along with the child’s current state of health, and whether they are prone to sickness or infections. Maturity, attention span and their ability to remember details will also be taken into consideration. If the therapist suggests that the child waits a year before attending school, it is in the best interest of the child for the parents to heed the advice given by the therapist. Being emotionally ill-prepared to attend school will cause the learner to struggle with Grade 1, a critical grade in their school career.
Attendance of a formal preschool is crucially important and it will help prepare kids for school. Most preschools in SA offer school readiness programs and here preschoolers are taught to recognize letters and numbers, and they are also assessed on their fine and gross motor coordination skills. One of the many advantages of kids attending preschool is that if they are any problems which exist, in terms of behavioural or emotional problems, these can be worked on and tended to before Grade 1 begins.
Many schools have a Grade R or Grade 0 program and this is usually a better choice as kids can start their schooling career at the school and not have to change schools later. Several nursery schools can also offer a Grade R or similar program and again, a school-readiness program is followed and all kids are assessed on their ability and if they are indeed ready for school. Preschool will aid the child to adjust to sitting still for longer period of time and concentrating, whereas playschool lets kids play while a preschool follows a more rigid structure and a set out lesson plan.
Preschool will help kids to develop fundamental social skills by way of sharing their toys, and learning to play with other children.
Children who are not able to attend a formal preschool can become prepared for big school at home. Parents are encouraged to spend more time with kids reading, colouring in and learning. If children are cared for by a nanny during the day, parents need to help their kids become school ready by preparing a few worksheets which can be found on online websites. Visit, http://www.shirleys-preschool-activities.com/free-printable-preschool-worksheets.html for free worksheet downloads. To develop the child’s social skills parents can consider hosting play dates or look for venues in their area, like play parks where children get together. It is important that children develop the necessary social skills before they attend school.
Reading with a child is a wonderful interactive way to prepare kids for school. Reading helps to improve a child’s vocabulary and by reading with an adult, kids will learn to recognise different words and sounds.
There are a lot of great online games and board games that will make learning fun and exciting for preschoolers. The sites are interactive and parents can also become involved and help kids with activities. Board games, like Junior Scrabble is a fun way to assist kids to learn to spell and learn to form new words.
For a child to thrive in school, they must follow a routine. A regular bedtime is very important and parents should try and keep the week’s routine the same. Another way in which parents can assist their kids to be prepared to take on the challenges of school is to provide them with a healthy, wholesome diet, limit sweets and fizzy cold drinks and encourage them to enjoy outside play, while restricting TV time.
– Kathy Baron