Written by Dr Tessa Grigg, Dr Jane Williams and Bindy Cummings
The readiness of any child for school must be considered on an individual basis. The most important aspect to consider is how your child is developing, more than the date of birth.
Research 1 clearly shows that how ready children are for their school experience, is critical to a confident start and their success at school. It is never too early to prepare your child for school. Parents can do this by being aware of the skills children need for entering school, and then conscientiously and deliberately providing opportunities for their child to develop these skills.
Readiness is not just educational, it needs to be combined with preparedness of the body, soul, mind and ego. The best preparation for school incorporates a combination of the following:
- A happy home where children learn to laugh, cuddle, talk, play, be active, help, wait, watch and above all, be loved and believe in themselves
- Time in a program such as GymbaROO – KindyROO, where research-based programs 2-4 and specially designed equipment, encourage critical skills for early learning, especially literacy and numeracy
- Time in a preschool or kindergarten program or home-school equivalent
GymbaROO-KindyROO is focused on enhancing children’s brain development by providing essential sensory-motor stimulation through movement, massage, songs, games, dancing and more. Children learn about climbing, jumping, swinging and ball skills, as well as balance, coordination, spatial and temporal awareness. These are all crucial prerequisites for formal learning at school and academic, physical, social and emotional success We do things at GymbaROO-KindyROO that are difficult for a preschool/kindergarten to include. Time at preschool/kindergarten also builds academic and social skills. Children learn to cut, draw, construct, listen, share, write, stack, pack and, importantly, help them to participate and manage without their parents or primary care-giver.
Your child will find school entry easier if most of the skills in each of the following areas have already been gained before entry:
- Able to trust and relate to other adults
- Able to act on directions from other adults
- Able to go to preschool/kindergarten without ongoing tears
- Able to mix happily with other children
- Able to take turns and share
- Able to separate from parents easily
- Have confidence in their own abilities
- Able to participate in activities by self
- Able to participate in group activities
- Able to exercise some self-control
- Able to take personal care of eating, dressing and toileting
- Have developed a preferred hand, eye and ear
- Have developed gross motor skills to manage equipment in the playground
- Have developed fine motor skills to manage equipment in the classroom
- Can cut and paste with ease
- Can talk in sentences to express own needs, not just in two or three words
- Speech is understandable
- Can follow three or more simple instructions
- Can understand most concept words
- Enjoys listening to stories, looking at pictures and talking about them
- Can remember parts of favourite book or story
- Can repeat some nursery rhymes or fingerplays
- Can sing some children’s songs and knows basic colours
- Can draw people with three or four recognisable features
- Holds pencil correctly and attempts to write
- Can count own fingers
- Shows curiosity
- Wants to learn by asking questions – Why? or How?
- Able to attempt to solve simple problems
In general, children are ready for formal learning when they have most of the above skills. Partnering GymbaROO-KindyROO and preschool/kindergarten gives children a really solid foundation of skills. They are all set to have fun and enjoy their education. If they are struggling with many of these skills, then there is no need to rush school entry. Seek advice from your GymbaROO- KindyROO teacher or consult a specialist in the area of child development.
Dr Jane Williams (PhD, BMgt, RN(Paeds)) is a Director of GymbaROO-KindyROO and a leading Child Development expert.
Dr Tessa Grigg (PhD, Dip Tch ECE and Primary) is the Research and Education Manager for GymbaROO-KindyROO. She has a wide range of experience teaching young children and adult students.
Bindy Cummings (B.Ed hons) is a teacher, a GymbaROO early childhood neuro-developmental consultant and the co-creator of GymbaROO’s Active Babies Smart Kids series. She has been writing articles for GymbaROO’s First Steps magazine, digital platforms and media for over ten years.
- Pagani, L.S., et al., School readiness and later achievement: A French Canadian replication and extension. Developmental Psychology, 2010. 45: p. 984-994.
- Goddard-Blythe, S., Releasing educational potential through movement: A summary of individual studies carried out using the INPP Test Battery and Developmental Exercise Programme for use in schools with children with special needs. Child Care in Practice, 2005. 11(4): p. 415-432.
- Thelen, E. and L.B. Smith, A systems approach to the development of cognition and action. 1994, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
- Williams, J., Does a neurodevelopmental movement program affect Australian children’s academic performance? Unlocking Potential: a report. Australian Journal of Child and Family Health Nursing, 2015. 2(12): p. 12 – 18.