As part of our work in children’s communication, we are often asked “do you think my child is ready to start school?” or “what skills does my child need in order to start school?”

If the child was born in the last half of the year, this question is posed even more often. So how can we determine the answer to this question? Whilst it may not always feel so clear cut, there are many factors to consider that can help in making this decision easier. Starting school is ultimately much more than just being able to hold a pencil, recognise their name and sit in group time. There are, many listening, doing, playing and social aspects to starting school., Aas such, difficulties in certain areas can greatly impact a child’s confidence and progress over the years ahead.

If we consider an average day at school for a Kindergarten child, it includes many skills to ensure they can follow along with what is happening. Coming to school, saying goodbye to parents / carers without it affecting the entire day and following instructions that include multiple steps (e.g.e.g., “put your bag in your cubby, come inside and sit on the mat”). Sometimes these instructions change so “getting into a routine” doesn’t always help. On other days, there may be a substitute teacher, and, in these cases, everything will be different so a child’s ability to adapt and follow a range of instructions becomes even more important. 

 Once settled and the day is under way, many questions are asked and discussions are had. Can your child answer a range of questions? what, who, where, why, how do you know, what do you think will happen? These are just some of the questions used in daily life at school. Answering them promotes conversation skills and further enhances relationships. Can your child speak clearly with mostly good grammar? Can they tell what happened over the weekend? The ability to speak with clear speech is the best predictor of literacy development and if a child struggles to use a particular speech sound/s they will struggle to create clear templates for these sounds when learning to read and spell. For example, if they say “sell” instead of “shell” or “wed” instead of “red” they will read these words incorrectly. This affects the meaning of what they read, as well as how they’ll eventually spell the word. At preschool / day-care, going to the toilet was often something that your child could do without asking. At school, this is different and your child will need the confidence to ask to leave to use the bathroom, difficulties doing so may lead to unwanted accidents. 

ACTIVE OT FOR KIDS & KIDS SPOT: Kids Spot sessions. August 21, 2020. Sydney , Bondi Junction, NSW, Australia. Photo: Narelle Spangher

What happens when something goes wrong, can your child solve a problem? ask for help? generate a possible solution if there isn’t an adult immediately close by (e.g., a lost book, a friend falls, a friend doesn’t want to play). Can they negotiate different types of play with different children and tell others how they are feeling and why? These important social and play skills underpin relationships and overall confidence in the playground and classroom. 

 Whilst it may seem overwhelming, there are many tools on hand. Your child’s preschool / daycare educators are a valuable resource for helping to determine if any of the above skills are difficult for your child. If the answer is yes, there are some amazing external support

services to assist. A speech pathologist such as those at Kids Spot Speech Pathology, can conduct an assessment to determine more clearly where your child falls compared to their peers and then plan for how to develop these skills as your child prepares for school. Our best advice is always “don’t wait and see” – these skills are often much easier and faster to develop during the preschool years. Then your child can concentrate on loving school life and all that it brings. 

 If you would like a more specific school readiness checklist of or a free chat with a speech pathologist.  you can email us on: or call us on: 0414 543 913

Suite 13, Level 2, 97 Grafton st, Bondi Junction 2022

ACTIVE OT FOR KIDS & KIDS SPOT: Kids Spot sessions. August 21, 2020. Sydney , Bondi Junction, NSW, Australia. Photo: Narelle Spangher

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