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Is my child ready for school?

School readiness is a process, not an event. The process leading to school readiness starts at birth and goes hand in hand with the normal stages of development of the child. A child who is provided with sufficient opportunity for healthy development should, by the time he reaches compulsory school age, also be school ready.

There are various factors, however, that may inhibit the process of achieving school readiness.

Some children may not be ready at the expected time, despite adequate opportunity to develop normally. Children who (for instance):

  • cannot see or hear well

  • are over-active

  • are sick

  • whose natural perceptual development has for some reason been inhibited

These children require professional or other aid to further the normal process of preparation for the school. It is mainly for this reason that school readiness tests have been devised.

The child’s development in four areas indicates whether he/she is school ready or not, namely:

  • The physical or biological maturation level

  • The level of emotional readiness

  • The level of intellectual development

  • The perceptual level

The level of physical maturity signifies the physical growth of a child, his bone and muscular development, visual and auditory development, and the development of laterality. Heredity may also play a part.

A child who has not yet reached a given physiological maturation level usually still exhibits a great need to play. He/she is often not ready emotionally to meet the demands made on him/her, tires easily in a formal teaching situation, and is not yet work orientated. A child who has not yet reached the desired level of physical maturation is often unwilling to perform a task as required by the teacher. He often reacts in an emotional way to mask his inability when confronted with a task that is too difficult.

The child who is physically ready for school has the ability to meet the demands made on him/her. He/she can handle his/her pencil with ease and can sit still long enough to concentrate and to learn.

The child who has achieved the required physical maturity is not only able to learn, but also willing to listen and carry out instructions. He/she is also more or less able to take care of his/her own physical needs, i.e. dressing, toilet routine, feeding themselves, and so on.

Besides the physiological maturation level and the level of emotional readiness a child has to attain, he/she should also be intellectually and perceptually ready for school. The parent and the pre-primary school can do a great deal to help the child achieve the required level of readiness.

When a child is ready for school, his/her lateral dominance has been established, he/she has already developed a sense of direction, can see and hear well, can express his/her own needs verbally, and is capable of a certain degree of abstract reasoning.

Besides the various areas in which a child should be school ready, his/her skills within the respective areas of the various levels of school readiness can also be evaluated.

The three levels according to which a young child may be evaluated are the concrete, the semi-concrete and the abstract levels:

  • The concrete level of development refers to the activities the child can master when dealing with objects. This means that the child can count when he/she touches an object and looks at it. The young child can hold up three fingers to show his/her age, although he/she might not yet know the digit three, or is uncertain about the meaning of the number three.

  • The semi-concrete level signifies the picture level. The child can occasionally select the container with three objects, but is not capable of a meaningful response when you ask him/her to draw three stars.

  • The abstract level constitutes the child’s ability to respond to verbal instructions without the aid of concrete objects or a picture.

It is important to note that upon entering school, children may have attained varying degrees of school readiness in the various areas and levels. Some children may be completely ready for school, others may be partially ready, and a third group not at all, despite the fact that they have reached compulsory school-going age.

If you are unsure if your child is truly ready for school, please contact your nearest Edu-Profilogist to perform a school readiness assessment with your child.

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