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A primary school teacher writes: 'If your child can't do these 7 things, they're not ready for school.'

Deciding if your child is ready for school is a big decision.

You’re forced to weigh up all of the pros and cons and make the first big call on their independence.

This can be an even more difficult decision if your child is born in the second half of the year. You have to decide if they will be enrolled when they’re turning five and be the youngsters of the grade, or hold them back until they’re turning six.

Schools are generally quite flexible in relation to student enrolment, although the rules vary from state to state.

But basing your decision on age alone just isn’t enough. Students develop at different rates and can learn in different ways.

I’m a primary school teacher, and I like to think of a kindergarten classroom as a mixed lolly bag. Each lolly you pluck out of the bag is always going to be different. Teachers plan and deliver lessons based on the needs of students and the way that they learn best.

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So as a parent, the educational ball is in your court. If you’ve noticed any or all of the following traits, they may be a sign that your little one is well and truly ready for school.

1. They have attended Pre-School.

If your child has attended pre-school, then the jump to primary school isn’t so big. They have already learnt to deal with the hard part of letting go of you as a parent for a few hours of the day. They would have also already learnt and mastered a large number of the expectations their teacher will set in Kindergarten. Think of it as though they’ve been given a trial run. You have a better idea of what to expect when they start “big school”.

2. They are beginning to socialise.

If your child shows an interest in other children, this is a good start. Some children enjoy doing things independently, which is also a good thing. However, socialising also encourages learning as students will not only learn from the teacher but they will also learn from each other. If your child is open to making new friends it shows they are beginning to do things on their own which is also linked to their independence.

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3. They can do some tasks independently.

Learning experiences in school generally follow the pattern of: modelled, guided then independent learning. This is when the teacher demonstrates a particular skill, the student is then encouraged to have a go with the support of the teacher before they finally having a go at it by themselves. If your child does simple tasks on their own at home without being asked, it’s a good sign they’re ready for school.

4. They are becoming aware of their behaviour and emotions.

A good start in positive behaviour is knowing the difference between right and wrong. Negative behaviour can stem from a large number of reasons and teachers are often on the lookout for triggers of bad behaviour. If they can tell you at home when they are hurt, upset or angry, this is normally a good indication that they will do the same with their teacher and that they can manage their emotions.

5. They can respond to change and direction.

The school day is very structured. All classrooms work to a timetable and most classrooms have visual timetables set up so the students are aware of what they will be doing too. However, not everything is predictable and sometimes routines are disrupted. If your child can deal with change it is a good indication they are ready for school. If they can follow a few simple instructions this is also another good indicator.

6. They have been introduced to the alphabet and are beginning to count.

Children are not expected to be able to read or write by the time they start school. However, if they have an understanding of the basics such as letters and numbers this can help. Once students have mastered the alphabet they begin moving onto phonics which are the sounds letters make when they are blended together. This can assist in both reading and writing. When students know some of their numbers they are more easily able to understand concepts of whole number and number patterns that they are introduced to in Kindergarten.

7. They can show an age-appropriate amount of attention towards a task.

Students need to be able to show attention toward a task to be able to learn. Most activities are normally set at 15 minute intervals because as children, teachers know their attention span is obviously not that of an adult. Being able to stay focused for about 10 to 15 minutes is a good sign.

This story first appeared on Mamamia in June, 2014. 

How did you know your child was ready for school? Would you add anything to this list?

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