Preparing your child for school

Anne Williams Catherine Morgan

Is my child ready for school? What can I be doing to help them be ready?

These are questions we get asked often. If your child attends an early childhood service (preschool, long day care, family day care or transition program), talk to the educators about ways to help your child with this important transition.

A transition is a period of change. It is a process over time rather than a sudden switch. For example when your child learnt to walk they did it in stages; pulling themselves up on the couch or coffee table, walking with support, walking holding your hand and then finally – walking on their own! They learned to walk in stages and you supported their progress. Take this same approach when helping your child to be ready for school.

Parents and early childhood educators consider a range of skills when deciding if a child is ready for school. It is not just about the child’s age. Parents should feel comfortable talking over their concerns with their child’s educators.

Helping your child become ready for school takes time and support. By the time children start school it is helpful if they can do the following most of the time.

Self-help skills – is independent in using the toilet and washing hands; can get dressed and undressed; can put on socks and shoes; can unpack and unwrap recess and lunch and eat independently; can keep track of their belongings.

Social emotional development – can separate from a parent or carer; can recognise how others might be feeling; can play with other children, share and take turns; can attend to an activity; can say their full name and please and thank you.

Language skills – can express their needs and wants effectively in words; are speaking in complete sentences; most people can understand their speech; can follow 2-step directions and understand positional words such as ‘under’ or ‘next to’.

Maths skills – can count from 1-10 and understand the concept of these numbers; recognises shapes; sort items by categories such as colour or size; identify and name some colours.

Fine motor skills – can hold a pencil; use scissors to cut out shapes; trace around basic shapes or copy and draw shapes; fasten zippers and buttons.

Gross motor – is able to run, jump and skip; balance on one foot; walk upstairs; bounce and catch a ball; is aware of their body space and others.

At Sounds good to me we are really interested in preparing children’s early reading skills. If children have these skills they will find it easier to learn how to read when they start school.

Literacy skills – does your child:

  • Enjoy being read to/listening to stories
  • Know how to handle a book (holds book right side up, knows where it starts & ends)
  • Recognise environmental print (familiar logos, signs and words)
  • Recognise own name in print
  • Try to write own name or other ideas by using symbols or letters
  • Draw a picture to express an idea

Phonological (sound) awareness skills are skills children develop as they begin to understand that a words is made up of syllables and single sounds. For example cat-a-pi-llar = caterpillar or d-o-g = dog. Children who have phonological or sound awareness skills when they start school will have more success learning to read than children who don’t have these sound awareness skills.

Phonological awareness skills as children start school include;

  • Showing an interest in words and sounds
  • Has some awareness of first sounds of words, for example: cherry starts with the ‘ch’ sound
  • Can say the alphabet or part of the alphabet
  • Identifies some letters and some of the sounds they make, either by sound to letter or letter to sound, for example, they may know the first letter and sound in their own name
  • Knows whether or not 2 words rhyme, may be able to provide a 3rd rhyme for the words

Would you like to learn simple and effective ways you can help your child be ready for school?

Sounds good to me – for parents was created by Speech Pathologists covering all aspects of early literacy (language and reading) skills that you child needs before they start school.

Priced at just $22 for one month’s access and then just $5.50 per month following. Cancel at any time. You get access to 8 short videos and downloadable activities and information. The video series includes;

  • Introduction to sound awareness
  • Listening skills
  • Speech and language development
  • Reading with your child
  • Rhyming
  • Words and syllables
  • First sounds in words
  • Introducing letters and sounds

Does this sound good to you?

Sounds good to me – for parents was developed in response to requests from parents. It is a stand- alone resources for parents of children who are starting school in the next year or two. It is also an excellent companion course for our educators’ programs (centre based or family day care).