School Readiness

Key Questions Asked:

  • How do I know if my child is ready for school?
  • What developmental areas are important for school?
  • How can I encourage and prepare my child for school?

Differences between child care and school

  • Size and layout of the classroom
  • Fewer teachers to rely on
  • The need to sit at a desk for longer periods
  • Bigger playground and diverse ages of children
  • New rules, routines and procedures
  • Layout of the school i.e. the bathrooms
  • New peer groups
  • Wearing a school uniform

Essential skills necessary for entering school

  • Play cooperatively with peers
  • Follow a 2-3 step direction
  • Work independently
  • Share and take turns
  • Initiate and maintain conversations
  • Listen and concentrate
  • Take care of own belongings
  • Show empathy
  • Be a functional member of a small group
  • Follow rules

Factors determining school readiness

  • Physical factors; Is your child tall or look older than others of the same age
  • Independence; Your child's ability to perform self-help skills unaided
  • Social Maturity; The way your child interacts with peers and other children
  • Development; How proficient your child is in a number of developmental areas

Indicators your child may not be ready for school

  • Social and emotional insecurity or immaturity
  • Speech or language problems
  • Difficulty in one or more areas of development
  • Problems with attending/concentrating skills or behaviour
  • Unable to manage social situations involving problem solving
  • Being significantly younger than most other children in the class

Seven Developmental areas important for starting school

1. Social: Turn taking, sharing, following rules, listening to group times
2. Emotional: Self confident, shows empathy, separates easily
3. Physical: Run, climb, balance, well coordinated, throw and catch a ball
4. Fine Motor: Draws, uses scissors, uses pincer grip, shows handedness
5. Language: Answer questions, maintains conversation, follow directions
6. Cognitive: Sorts, knows shapes, colours, can count, write own name
7. Self help: Toileting independently, looks after belongings, tidies up

How can you prepare your child for school

  • Talking with your child about school and what it will be like
  • Visiting the school and reflecting on what it was like
  • Reading books about starting school
  • Listening to children's expectations about school
  • Encouraging your child's natural curiosity
  • Making everyday things an exploration of language


  • Children respond and react differently to starting school
  • They may be ready but it will take time to adjust to the changes
  • It is hard to predict how they will react and cope initially
  • Decisions to hold a child back should not be taken lightly and all areas of development should be considered
  • Support and reassure your child that it will be a happy and positive experience