Exploring School Readiness

As we make our way into the middle of Term 2, parents are pondering the age-old question of “is my child ready for school?”. School starting age in NSW is often a contentious issue in parent groups, with current policies stating that a child must be enrolled in full time schooling before the age of 6, but allowing them to start if they turn 5 before July 31 of that year, creating the potential for an 18-month age difference between children starting Kindergarten – a huge timeframe in childhood development.

When considering whether your child is ready to commence Kindergarten, it is important to consider every aspect of their development:

  • Social and emotional
  • Language and communication
  • Fine motor
  • Gross motor
  • Play
  • Attention and concentration

With children all developing at different rates, I don’t consider it an issue of “starting early” or “holding back”, simply starting a child when they are developmentally ready. The expectations and demands placed on children entering Kindergarten are significantly higher than 15-20 years ago, with less time spent playing and a greater focus on academic skills such as reading and writing. Children are expected to spend longer periods sitting still and use tools like pencils and scissors in ways that their hands may not yet be ready for. In more recent years, there has been a pleasing shift towards including more play based sessions in the Kindergarten curriculum however expectations on performance in academic areas remains high.

This will be a series of articles that explore the skills that may be expected of a child starting Kindergarten, factors to consider when deciding if your child is ready and what action to take if you, or your child’s current education setting, identify concerns regarding your child’s development. Advice will also be provided on facilitating a successful school start for children with disabilities and diverse learning needs, so stay tuned!

Guest Author: Julia Hay, a Pediatric Occupational Therapist, offers specialist paediatric OT services for children aged 0-18 for children with sensory processing differences, Autism, ADHD, ODD, Anxiety and complex needs. Julia’s Place was started in 2016 by Julia Hay. After 5 years working in Sydney’s Inner West, Julia saw the opportunity to provide specific services in the North West and North Shore of Sydney too.

Previous articles from Julia Hay:

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