Preparing your child for school is an exciting and nerve racking experience for most families at the best of times. Ensuring your child is ready for school is another thing all together.
Occupational therapists and speech pathologists support families and educators to incorporate appropriate strategies in their daily routines. This helps develop good school readiness skills and allows for an easy transition into the school environment.
Below is a checklist to help ease some of the anxiety in ensuring your child is ready for Kindy!
✓ Well established fine motor skills – fine motor skills at school are essential as children will build on their current skill set to start to form letters, words and sentences. Can your child: write their name? Draw a detailed picture? Hold a pencil with their thumb and pointing finger, and their middle finger ‘resting’ behind?
✓ Coordination and gross motor skills – Can your child copy and plan motor movements? Can your child hold a posture? If children have difficulty with balancing or copying motor movements it may be a sign that they have poor postural control. This can make sitting in a chair for extended periods tricky, so a child may appear to be ‘disruptive’ by constantly moving. Difficulty copying movements may be a sign of poor motor planning.
✓ Attention and concentration – Being able to attend to a task for a period of time is one of the main key indicators for school readiness. If a child has difficulty with attention and concentration they may miss key instructions and have difficulty completing a task. In a new and fast paced environment children can quickly fall behind and their academic performance can suffer.
Speech and language skills
✓ Clear articulation – a child’s speech continues to develop until they are 8 years old. This means that children may make some sound errors when starting school. Some common errors include saying ‘w’ for ‘r’ or ‘f’ for ‘th’. Despite these errors, children starting school should be understood 100% of the time they speak.
✓ Following instructions – children starting school should be able to follow 3 step instructions (e.g. ‘get your lunch, put your hat on and line up’). If children have difficulty following instructions, they may have difficulty completing tasks independently and may also appear to be misbehaving.
✓ Understanding concepts – those specifically relating to sequence (e.g. first, second, last, after), size (e.g. big, small, short, tall), location (e.g. behind, in front of, top, bottom), and time (e.g. yesterday, tomorrow, days of the week).
✓ Expressive communication - using sentences of approximately 6 words. Sentences should include correct use of grammar (e.g. he, she, they etc.), joining words (and, so, because etc.) and prepositions (e.g. on, in, under).
✓ Pre-reading skills – knowledge of letter-sound correspondence, recognising rhymes, clapping syllables and identifying the first sound of words.
By Erin Criticos (SP) and Marie Criticos (OT)