The leap between pre-school and primary school
As the year gears down to it’s last quarter, the Grade R’s are gearing up for their annual School Readiness testing.
School readiness is determined when a pre-school child has already turned 6 years old. Testing largely explores whether they are ready to benefit from formal education, for an easy and successful transition into primary school.
Age is however only one of the factors determining whether or not a child is ready for “big school”. Other aspects of development that are considered to be critical indicators of the child’s degree of school readiness include physical, sensory and motor development; cognitive development (perceptual, numeracy, literacy, memory, etc.); as well as socio-emotional development.
In the broader sense, the child needs to be capable of working on a task independently, be able to communicate their needs and wants in an appropriate manner, have the concentration and core muscles to sit on a chair for longer periods, and the social skills to interact with their peers. School readiness also relates to characteristics such as knowing how to share and take turns, listen and ask questions and being able to work well with others.
School readiness is thus not something children suddenly acquire when they come of age; it is an accumulation of all the learning and skills the child has picked up throughout their lives.
It is however apparent, that if a child is to reach his/ her full potential and benefit from formal education, being ready is extremely important; whilst remaining cognisant that children vary greatly as regards maturity and development.
As such, school readiness testing plays an important role in the early identification of possible gaps in the child’s development that may hinder them from certain activities related to schooling. The test thus provides teachers with further insight into the child’s development, which is considered in tandem with the continuous assessment conducted over the school year. Areas of concern, which still require attention, can be focussed on and if necessary, corrective measures can be put in place, such as onward referral to the respective therapy to consolidate foundation skills.
As for the Grade 1 teacher who receives the child the following year, the school readiness test findings enables her to get to know each child’s’ level of learning readiness, and differentiate the work to suit the level of the child. In some cases, the recommendation of the Bridging Program may be best suited.
Findings of school readiness testing can also help parents better comprehend their child’s abilities, and how best to support them at home.
Merlyn Smith is passionate about working with the child faced with challenges, by providing a platform for them to develop the skills needed to reach their potential. She has been in private practice at Knights Prep since 2009 and believes in the value of being a school-based therapist, as this allows for a more collaborative and integative approach. Merlyn is further trained in Ayres Sensory Integration, and has a special interest treating sensory processing difficulties, developmental delays and learning difficulties