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How do I know if my child is school ready?

The impact

Starting school before a child is ready can create stress and anxiety patterns that can last for life.  More importantly, there are some things that children simply cannot learn until they are ready.

For example, handwriting legibly needs a quite complex brain integration to occur and no matter how much we want out children to do it, it's simply impossible for them to do it until they are ready.

Reading relies on the development of a lobe in the brain that kicks in sometime between the age of three and 14 - that is a huge window of time.  (

Although our fast-paced lives are about having everything now, development is one of those things that just can't be hurried.  children have to grow up at their own pace and our education system cannot speed up the process for a child who is not yet ready.

Helping to prepare your child for school

Parents can help their children be better prepared for school by strengthening the many life skills that build social and emotional competence before they start school through encouraging play in all its forms in as many different contexts as possible.

If the opportunity is available an Early Learning Program may be a great opportunity to provide your child with a structured environment where they can learn through play, and develop excellent friendships and social relationships.  There is no doubt that children who start school with known friends are at an advantage as friendships smooth the fears for many as they start in a new environment.

Early years educators are also a great help for parents who are trying to determine whether their child is school ready.

Here are some guidelines that help determine school readiness

The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia - as outlined by the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES) has five learning outcomes that reflect contemporary theories and research evidence about children's learning. The outcomes are used to guide planning and to assist all children to make progress.  These outcomes are generally expected to have been achieved before commencing Kindergarten.

The outcomes are:

1. Children have a strong sense of identity.
2. Children are connected with and contribute to their world.
3. Children have a strong sense of wellbeing.
4. Children are confident and involved learners.
5. Children are effective communicators.

Can your child:

  • Go to the toilet, eat and dress with minimal assistance?
  • Recognise their own belongings?
  • Stay with a familiar person happily?
  • Concentrate for short periods?
  • Understand and obey simple instructions?
  • Cooperate without frequent temper tantrums?
  • Make needs known?
  • Follow simple instructions?
  • Use a variety of things (pens, pencils, markers, paintbrushes, sticks in the dirt) to draw, to scribble or to write?
  • Identify things in a group that are different, and differentiate between opposites such as day and night, light and dark, etc.?
  • Play cooperatively with other children – shares and takes turns?
  • Use scissors to cut along a straight line?
  • Enjoy a variety of indoor and outdoor play?
  • If you answered ‘yes’ to most, this is a good indication that your child may be ready for the first year of school.

Helpful Links

A Special Place

Getting Ready for School

School Readiness Tasks and Preparation

Ready for School Checklist

Learning how to make friends

Thinking about transitioning to school