Being School Ready
When deciding to send your child to school how do you know if they are ready? Head of St Catherine’s School Early Learning Centre and Junior School, Mrs Alana Moor discusses the key factors to consider when making this important decision.
From birth to eight years of age children experience more rapid brain development, and acquire more skills and knowledge, than in any other period of their lives.
By the time children have entered school they have already developed key communication, learning and thinking skills, learnt to build and maintain relationships, and formed a strong sense of their own identity. These skills and knowledge are the foundation for learning at school and throughout life.
Whilst the family unit is the first and foremost educator in the early years of a child’s life the provision of early learning programs for children aged three to five are an important aspect of consolidating the necessary skills for children to be ‘school ready’.
“School is where you learn a lot over a long period of time. The early learning environment provides children with a wonderful start to this lifelong pathway of learning,” says Head of Early Learning and Junior School at St Catherine’s School, Mrs Alana Moor.
“Pre-schoolers are naturally curious and naturally striving individuals. They are competent and must be viewed as such. Children want to conquer all things. An effective Early Learning Centre (ELC) must make children feel safe, secure, cared for, happy and respected for their individual characteristics and learning styles. Educators must harness and treasure the natural inquisitiveness and desire to learn of every child – in doing this, effective learning is possible.”
Mrs Moor explains an enriching early learning experience provides children with the necessary skills to not only commence school with competency and confidence, but also equip them with skills they will use throughout their lives.
“To be ready for school children need to be physically capable, emotionally and verbally prepared, able to actively listen and already have a degree of resilience. Without these skills children will not have the necessary resources to absorb the learning taking place in the school classroom. There is a real hierarchy of skill progression at this age.”
Children at St Catherine’s School ELC, in both the three year old and four year old programs, are empowered to do things for themselves with educators guiding the children throughout the day with planned activities that foster the development of these four important
Children are encouraged to dress themselves, pack their bags and take responsibility for their own belongings. The children are also instructed to have a go first and ask for help once they have tried to complete a task independently.
“One of the greatest skills a learner can possess is the courage to ask for help – to put your hand up and say you do not understand. This is a learned skill that can be taught and reinforced at a young age. If children are not encouraged to ask for help they may start avoiding challenging tasks by participating in unproductive behaviour,” says Mrs Moor.
“Understanding their own feelings and respecting the people around them is also a focus for children in our ELC. Gaining a strong sense of self, knowing your limits and learning how to respond in challenging circumstances are all skills that children will use throughout their life from the sandpit to the workplace.“
Mrs Moor acknowledges that finding the right ELC can be daunting for parents. “For most parents selecting your child’s ELC is the first step in an educational journey that can endure for fifteen to twenty years. This can sometimes be worrying for parents who obviously want to provide their child with the best possible start to their education.”
“If parents remain vigilant, responsive, proactive and have an ongoing relationship with their child’s educators they will reap the rewards throughout the school years.”
When deciding if their preschooler is ready to take the step from early learning into school Mrs Moor encourages parents to ask themselves the following questions:
- Physical Preparedness and Independence – can your child dress themselves with little or no assistance? Are they able to pack their bags and take responsibility for their own belongings?
- Emotional and Verbal Readiness – can your child express themselves and ask for assistance when needed? Do they know their own limits and understand personal space?
- Listening Skills – does your child know when to stop talking and actively listen?
- Resilience – does your child have the determination to problem solve?
For further information regarding St Catherine’s School Early Learning Centre please contact Admissions on (03) 9828 3917 or go to www.stcatherines.net.au/early-learning
Published in MamaMag– August/September 2017