School readiness
School readiness means that the child is ready, both physically and mentally to start school after the playful kindergarten years. It does not equal being smart or agile, and reaching age 6 does not automatically entail school readiness either. In most of the cases, not being apt for academic activities does not mean the lack of mental abilities; rather the fact that the child is not ready for adjusting to all the strict rules yet.
Of course, besides the general adjustment requirements, children going to school are also expected to have somewhat developed mental skills. As strict as these requirements might seem for the worrying parent, mentally sane children have usually no difficulty whatsoever in meeting them.
What is more, findings suggest that children get ready for school with regard to their mental skills much earlier than in their behaviour. Most of them have very little difficulty adapting to school, since the necessary abilities this process requires do not need to be taught; they should appear as part of the child's normal course of development. In spite of all these, there are still huge personal differences among children at this age. Some find it easy to recognize letters, while others are more interested in the world of numbers; but it is not a big problem if the child has not started getting to know any of these at all. There are a few general factors that might help you get a fairly reliable image of how ready our own child is for school.
Factors of school readiness
Physical factors:
- body appropriately developed (min. 110cm tall and weighing 18 kilograms)
- the child has lost all baby teeth, first permanent teeth have appeared
- good physical condition (the child should be able to carry his/her schoolbag and to sit still for a longer time)
- obvious laterality (left- or right-handedness clear)
Mental factors:
- the child should be looking forward to school and this should be reflected in his/her play as well
- the child should carry out all tasks (s)he is given and should not leave tasks unfinished
Other factors (skills):
- the child should be able to stay focused and immerged in a task such as drawing, filling in a task sheet or colouring, for a longer time period (10-15 minutes)
- it should be no problem for the child to memorize and recite short poems and tales
- the child should not have a speech disorder and should be able to express himself/herself orally (using simple and complex sentence structures).
- the child should be able to count until 10; (s)he should know and use well the notions of 'more/less' 'bigger/smaller'.
- the child should have some practice in fine motor movements such as drawing, colouring, painting and playing with the plasticine (of course, we should not think of artistic creations here, only some basic skills).