Is my child ready for school? Things you should consider!

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A typical Prep class can have children whose ages range from four to six years, so how do you know if your child is ready for school?

By MANDY WHITWORTH

All parents want to make sure that their child makes a successful start to school, here are 5 things you should consider:

1.Education is about nurturing and developing the whole child.
A young child needs the time to develop, play, create and wonder in a relatively stress free environment in their early years of life. Prep can be emotionally, physically and mentally demanding even for the most school ready child.

2.Is school readiness about being able to read, write or count?
No. These abilities are not necessarily a priority for school readiness. You will know when your child is ready to start learning more about numbers, letters and words when they become interested and start asking you questions about each of these things but school readiness is more closely linked to other factors.

3.Emotional and social maturity is important for school readiness. 
When children start school we want them to thrive, flourish and enjoy the challenges they are presented. You can consider your child’s emotional and social maturity, through looking at their ability to:

  • deal with separation
  • show initiative
  • demonstrate interest
  • play alongside others
  • concentrate
  • deal with frustration
  • follow instructions
  • express needs
  • demonstrate self-help skills, and
  • participate in small groups

4.Parental expectations.
It is important that parents discuss their expectations for their child’s first year at school. These thoughts will help you decide whether your child is ready to embark on the start of their official schooling. Parental expectations play a huge role in the success of a child’s journey throughout every year of schooling so make sure that you are on the same page as your school of choice with expectations.

5.There is no long term research that shows disadvantages in either starting school a little older or younger.
The trend of considering if a child has the necessary social and emotional skills to start school is a sensible one; it is a significant shift from the days when it was assumed that all children would be ready at the same time. Consult your child’s preschool teacher to help you make a more informed and considered decision about whether your child is ready to start school.

Remember, your child is going to be at school for a long time, make the decision that is right for them to ensure they are given a flying start!


Mandy has been the Head of Wardle House, the Junior School at Toorak College in Mount Eliza, since 2013. Prior to that she was the Deputy and Curriculum leader. Mandy has over 30 years’ experience in various Primary schools, with particular expertise in the early years of schooling.

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