Reflections on School Readiness

We are now dealing with something that is new for us. It’s everything that comes with the realisation that your child will be starting school next year. If you’re a teacher and not a parent, let me tell you that it is a very, very different feeling when you are considering your own child’s readiness. It makes you question constantly whether your child is ready to go to school. Is any young child really ready to enter an entirely new environment where they will be expected to dress in uniform, complete tasks, socialise and have the emotional maturity to respond appropriately to situations that may be confronting for them?

Man, that sounds exhausting to me as an adult, let alone a child. But this is the reality of the pressure placed upon our children entering school. Are they READY? I mean, are you sure? REALLY?

Then on the flip side it’s, “Hey, take it easy. Stop panicking! They don’t even need to be able to do all that stuff. If they know it already, then what’s the point of school?”

I go back and forth between both camps of thinking. I run Little Learners Club and I tell you what, those kids are so ready to be partaking in the activities we do. One of the most common negative thoughts I hear about Little Learners Club is that it’s totally unnecessary, that kids don’t need to be pushed to learn so early. I understand that. I see them picture a classroom setting. I see them picturing them doing worksheets or doing something that is beyond what their minds are ready for.

However, it’s really not like that at all. What I see is a small group of children having a great time singing, dancing, cutting, gluing, engaging in sensory activities all while being exposed to a literary world – letters, numbers, their name, books and art. Do they really need to do all that before school starts? That’s up to you and your instincts as to whether they are ready to be immersed in this world and whether this will give them the skills to take part next year, in a much bigger group with a lot more personalities, social constructs and longer sessions.

Master T had such a big fear of water when he was little. We never pushed him into swimming lessons. Then last summer he blew our minds at the beach…

Thomas beach

This year I watched him at swimming lessons for the first time last week and he blew my mind again, propelling himself, swimming with the noodle while putting his head under the water. He is ready now. No regrets on waiting.

School readiness is a bit trickier to decipher than something like being ready to swim. You can look at all the school readiness checklists you like, but it’s mostly subjective. In the real world, there’s the child who is ready academically but lacks social skills. There’s the one over there who has a bright and bubbly personality but who has a speech delay. Don’t forget the one who is too shy, the one who hates sitting still or the one who is defiant and doesn’t like being told what to do.

All these kids might be going to school next year. Are they all ‘ready’ in their own way? Some will be, some won’t. I don’t have the answers. I think the best thing to do is to trust your instinct and know, it might not happen straight away, but eventually, they will swim.

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