As soon as your children turn five they are supposed to start their education. Most of them are in for school in September, at the commonest intake time, and what if the kid turns five in October or November? A great number of children just on the verge of their fifth anniversary go to school when they are actually four years old. But in this case parents are stricken by understandable doubts: is the junior really primed for schooling? Right, this is a good reason to get some guidelines aboard and check with experts. This article offers some help.
First, bear in mind that children begin their initial stage of learning with the Early Years Foundation Stage or so-called “nappy curriculum” which picks up where preschool institutions left off – that is, playing. School does not make a clean break introducing a totally new lifestyle for children.
But this bit of knowledge doesn’t take away all your worries. There’s nothing wrong in getting information anywhere you can: go and talk to the caregiver in your child’s nursery or preschool, they can tell you how well your kid is making headway, what his manners are towards his playmates and adults, take a look at the observation book.
Your relatives and friends may have a helpful insight – the more so if they work or have volunteered in educational institutions for juniors.
Before you apply to any particular school, why not ask for permission to visit it on a routine school day? You can grasp the atmosphere within, see the environment your child will be learning in. Can you imagine your kid in one of these classrooms?
When at home, check these simple questions for a better understanding of your little dear’s preparedness:
- can he or she understand and follow simple instructions? Mind that the instructions will not be addressed to him or her personally, but to the whole class;
- can he dress, undress, go to the loo without help?
- check his fine motor skills like being able to write with a pencil, cut out a picture with scissors, and suchlike? Of course he will be getting support at classes, but they should be able to cope on their own, at least a little;
- are they used to handling books? If they can tell a story looking at a set of pictures, they are ready for reading;
- are they excited about learning something new? Do they remember new information, or are they happy within familiar ground and have no incentive to venture out?
- how do they socialize with other children? Can they share things and wait for their turn to do things? They’ll have to spend a lot of time with their classmates;
- can they interact with others in order to achieve a goal? Do they understand compromise?
Now, no matter what answers to these questions or other relevant information you get, you can do a lot to prepare your child for school days at home.
To improve your kid’s social skills, arrange for a playdate with his preschool institution friends – most of them are likely to attend the same school as he, which is a fact not to be ignored. Take him to club activities, don’t miss out on other organized activities.
Get the child to play games with you and observe whether they are attentive to your instructions, how well they remember and follow them. Set tasks intended to check their attention to colors, sizes, a succession of simple commands. Don’t get irritated if it doesn’t come right the first time round. Don’t rush the child, let them take their time.
Now, the question of age. There are countries where a child can be registered at school only after their fifth birthday, but in fact there are very many children who are only four when they begin to attend school. So when kids first go to school they are generally of the age from four-and-half to five-and-half. In some places like Northern Ireland if a child is not younger than four-and-two by the first of September, he is already eligible.
There are also schools which offer two reception intakes according to the child’s exact birthday date.
Suppose your child was born in summer or in spring, and your local school has but one reception procedure. Then you have a choice of enrolling the child when he or she is only four years old – or wait another year and get them to school at five.
You don’t have to decide it on your own – your particular school and the local educational officers can give you advice and offer explanations on the possibilities of what is called deferred admission. In some cases you may have to reapply if you decide to keep them off school for one more year. Get wise to the local policy and abide by it.
You may well wonder if your child is able to stand a full day at school. Then again, school has solutions to that which you will do well to learn about in advance. For example, some schools allow children to stay at school for only half a day during the first term, and you may want to avail yourself of the facility.
On the other hand, if you do, there’s a possibility your child could fall behind the rest of the class in his studies and fail to make friends as easily as those children who attend school full-time.
Anyway, you ought to know what’s best for the kid in the long run. You can choose to neglect these issues for some time if you are sure that your child will be exhausted by the end of a full day and it can affect his or her behavior seriously. If it will help them fit into school life better in the end, you will make up later what you may be losing now, and that will be all right.
Finally, don’t forget that if you can arrange for proper tutoring at home, there’s no law compelling you to send your child to school; just make sure you provide for the equivalent of a full-time education when the junior reaches the stipulated age.