School readiness is a term used to describe the extent to which a child is ready to make a smooth and successful transition into Kindergarten. While it’s perfectly normal for children to be at slightly different levels when they first start school, if your child has a significant deficit in one of the key areas of school readiness, they may find themselves struggling to keep up with their peers, leading to negative experiences of schooling and a less than ideal start to their education.
School readiness can be encouraged by ensuring that your child is participating in a program or a series of activities that actively develop the skills required to facilitate optimal learning in a school environment. While many parents may think of school readiness simply as numeracy and literacy skills (e.g. knowing the alphabet or counting), school readiness actually encompasses seven key areas. The Mini Masterminds Prep School program is an innovative and inspiring approach to early childhood education that specifically prepares children for school across all seven of these areas.
1. Social skills.
When most parents think of school, they think of the academic side, but it’s important to remember that school is an inherently social environment and having the right skills to navigate social interactions in the new and unfamiliar school context is absolutely crucial to ensuring your child’s success and enjoyment of school. Some of the social skills that are important to develop prior to starting school involve co-operating and getting on with peers (e.g. taking turns, sharing, respecting personal space) while others relate to functioning appropriately in a group context (e.g. listening at group times, following directions). Ensuring your child has well-developed social skills by the time they start school will allow them to make friends and enjoy socialising in the school environment while also ensuring they do not disrupt lessons and they are able to “fit in” with the class.
2. Emotional skills
Starting school can be an emotional time for young children, as they must navigate an entirely new environment without the support of their parents or caregivers throughout the day. Some of the key emotional skills your child should have developed from their preschool school readiness program include the ability to separate easily from their caregiver at drop-off, to confidently navigate new environments independently, and to show resilience when things don’t go exactly the way they might like. Children should also have developed a sense of empathy which will enhance their ability to socialise with their peers.
3. Physical skills
Gone are the days when children sat still in their seats all day at school (we now know this is not the best way to learn anyway!) Your child’s school day will involve plenty of physical activity, during both class times and break times. Ensuring they have mastered some basic physical skills before starting school will allow them to keep up with their peers -literally! Before starting school, your child should be able to confidently run, climb and balance. They should also demonstrate good coordination and be able to throw and catch a ball. These simple skills will allow them to confidently participate in the majority of physical games and activities undertaken by Kindergarteners.
4. Cognitive skills
While Kindergarten is considered the starting point of formal education, there is a level of assumed knowledge in terms of the cognitive skills most children should have already mastered. For example, children should be able to sort, identify shapes and colours, count, and write their own name before they start Kindergarten. If any of these skills are absent or under-developed, your child may feel a little bit out of their depth during some of the activities until they catch up. Don’t stress too much if your child is still mastering these skills, just be aware that they should at least have some level of attainment in these basic areas by the time school rolls around.
5. Fine motor skills
Of course, when it comes to academics, having the cognitive skills alone is not enough. It’s essential that children have the necessary fine motor skills to complete academic activities such as drawing, cutting with scissors, holding a pencil correctly, etc. In fact, research has shown that children’s motor skills are significantly related to both their mathematical and reading abilities, indicating that developing fine motor skills in preschool is essential to children’s future academic success.
6. Language skills
Being able to communicate to an adequate level is absolutely essential to starting school. Children who are verbally delayed may really struggle to keep up with lessons and even to integrate with their peers. By the time they start Kindergarten, children should be able to ask and answer questions, maintain conversations with both peers and adults and accurately follow clear directions from the teacher.
7. Self-help skills
One of the key differences between the school environment and the home or Early Childhood Education setting is the ratio of carers to children. In the classroom, there may be just one or two teachers or teaching assistants to a large group of children. This means your child must absolutely be able to perform basic self-help skills for themselves, or they will find themselves in some difficult and possibly upsetting situations. Before they start school your child should be toileting independently, capable of looking after/keeping track of their own belongings, and able to tidy up after themselves.
While the list of school readiness skills may seem intimidating, these are really standard skills that should be included in any high-quality preschool or school readiness program. At Mini Masterminds, not only do we follow the Australian Government’s Early Years Learning Framework to prepare children for school, we’ve also gone above and beyond to develop our very own Prep School Program in consultation with an experienced Primary School Teacher, Mr Camilleri. The specially formulated program offers a perfect transition from early childhood education to the first year of formal schooling by expertly integrating the key areas of school readiness. Coupled with our very own Mini Champions sports program, Mini Chefs cooking classes, Mandarin classes and Yoga Club, we have created a rich curriculum to give your child a head start in life and a great start to their schooling career.
Contact Mini Masterminds today to learn more about our Prep School Program.