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Children’s readiness for school

There are many ways in which a child can be ready for school, including:

  • Communication skills:  A child with limited speaking skills often struggles when they get to school and this can have a lasting effect throughout their education.  Settings which address this issue and where staff understand the importance of allowing the child to speak in sentences and initiate questions see a greater impact on the development of these skills.  Imaginative role-playing scenarios involving key workers are another successful method of helping children develop their communication skills.
  • Personal, social and emotional development:  Being ready to play, cooperate and share in groups is an important aspect of a child’s development, as these skills further facilitate the development of language and communication.  Group interaction is a key part of developing these skills. Those who seem to struggle can be identified and encouraged, perhaps in smaller groups, to build their confidence with communication and cooperation.
  • Physical development: 
    • The ability to care for themselves, e.g. going to the toilet or being able to use cutlery, can contribute greatly to a child’s self-confidence and their ability to settle into a new setting.
    • Motor skills (both fine and gross) such as hand to eye coordination is key to their ability to write, draw and continue their development throughout their first years at school. 
    • Additionally, having the curiosity about the world and the desire to learn helps children to move forward their own learning and become more independent learners.

School settings need to ensure that all staff are well trained in school readiness and fully aware of the support that each individual child requires. Consider using reminders for what stage of development children should be at, e.g. posters for members of staff will make sure they are keeping on track as education facilitators. The Solihull ‘developmental and emotional milestones’ leaflet is a general description of what most children can do at each age.

Some of the characteristics for school readiness may be difficult for all children to achieve and this shouldn’t leave parents or teachers concerned that a child isn’t school ready. The important thing is adults are aware of these characteristics and can put steps in place to ensure a child is developing the skills.

Useful websites

PACEY is the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years – it is a charity dedicated to supporting everyone working in childcare and early years. There is a section on being ‘school-ready’ with lots of resources and ideas.

Last updated 2 October 2020

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