Parents will often question 'when will you teach my child to read', 'when will you teach my child to write his name', 'learn the alphabet', and other questions based upon academic achievement, however the ability of a child to cope independently in a new social environment is more important for school readiness than being able write, count, and read simple words. Skills such as self-help, self-control and communication are vital skills that all children must learn in order to be a contributing member of society. These skills are developing from birth and need nurturing from that day forward. A recent study from Britain's Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years found only 4% of teachers believed the definition of school readiness should include a good basic understanding of reading, writing and arithmetic, whereas 25% of parents thought it should.
Below is a list of essential skills that will support your child with school readiness:
"7 Essential Skills for School Readiness"
1. Academic knowledge. Talk about and teach the names of basic colours and shapes. It is not essential for children to know letters and numbers before starting school and children who are taught to do this before starting school are usually not advantaged a year later as other children will catch up. But it will make a difference if you can interest your child in seeing the basic shapes in letters and numbers and noticing how shapes are different. Point out and discuss speed and other signs and letter box numbers while walking, driving and shopping together. Notice the different sizes of coins and that coins have different value amounts/numbers.
2. Knowledge of the environment and world. Give your child lots of varied experiences. Get out and about, visit different places, travel on different vehicles (e.g. paddle-boat, bike, bus, train), talk with different people, see and try different things.
3. Self-help skills. Support your child to learn to dress and undress themselves, go to the bathroom and wash their hands unassisted and without being reminded, tidy-up after play, and hang up and fold their clothes.
4. Listening skills. Read to your child on a regular basis. Talk with your child about things and focus your child's attention on what they are seeing and hearing.
5. Curiosity and Questioning skills. Respond to your child's questions and share in your child's curiosity by discovering answers and new information together.
6. Fine motor and Coordination skills. Help your child build their hand muscles by providing drawing and cutting activities, puzzles, water pouring, play-dough and clay, threading large beads and hammering activities, etc.
7. Independence and Responsibility. Foster independence by arranging for your child to visit their friends and extended family members, and stay for a short time without you. Also notice and praise when they do something that shows independence (e.g. gets their own coat when it's time to go out). Let your child hold and take care of their own bus ticket, decide what lunch they will have, or create other safe opportunities for your child to practise being independent and exercising self-responsibility.