July 20, 2018
ARTICLE:

Is your child ready to start school next year?

By Dr Andrea McGlade

Child school ready

Is your child is halfway through their kinder year and you’re not sure if things are okay with their development or behaviour?

Have you been seeing a speech therapist for some speech or language delays or getting help with their behaviour but are not sure if your child has the maturity yet for school?

Are you starting to wonder whether your child really is ready to start their first year of school?

Where can you get help making this decision?

Helping children with transitions is one of my key tasks – and making the transition to school is one of the biggest transitions children have to make now. Prep is no longer play based and the curriculum demands can be very challenging for some children.

From my experience, the children who struggle the most to make the transition into school are those who:

  • have sensory issues – noise, taste, smell – and become overwhelmed easily in a high sensory load environment (like a noisy classroom or playground).
  • demonstrate poor motor coordination – find multi-step instructions, dressing and using cutlery challenging.
  • do not seek or enjoy the company of others – they still tend to play by themselves rather than with other children and have trouble joining in with group activities in kinder.
  • exhibit behavioural difficulties – separation anxiety, poor sustained attention, impulsive or have intense emotional outbursts.

The good news is that children with speech or language disorders aren’t necessarily the children that struggle the most with starting school. However the youngest children for their year level may be, just because maturity with age can make such a difference.

What to do if you are worried about your child’s ability to cope with school next year?

  1. Speak with your child’s kinder teacher or their prospective school about your worries.
  2. Enrol your child in one of the many school-readiness occupational therapy-based programs that are available. A good occupational therapist can help identify any potential difficulties on the list above. If your child responds quickly to help in developing these skills then that is a very positive sign for school.
  3. Talk with someone like a developmental paediatrician. We listen to your concerns, look at your child’s developmental skills and self-regulation and help make a plan for support.

Help and expertise is out there – just ask!


This post was written by Specialist Developmental Paediatrician Dr Andrea McGlade.

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