School Readiness is About Being Ready to Learn

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School Readiness is About Being Ready to Learn

Talk to any kindergarten teacher and they will tell you that in the first week of a kindergarten classroom, they can quickly tell you which children are going to thrive and learn in the school environment, and those that will struggle.

Why is it that some children arrive at school, thirsty for knowledge and the challenges of the classroom and others begin to fall down, lost in the formalities and structure of school. Sadly, after the excitement of big school wears off, by mid term one, they no longer want to be there, quickly realizing that they are not able to do what many of their friends can do easily

Then for the parents, begins the interviews with teachers, looking for answers as to why their child is not learning – for many parents this continues for the child’s school career. So then, how to avoid this scenario?

The answer is not to hot house children! School readiness is not about being able to read or count to 100! Success in kindergarten is being about ready to learn! To sit still in a chair with good posture and balance so the eyes can focus. To have good fine motor control so that you can hold a pencil to write. To have good spatial awareness so they can do maths and music. To have good balance, so that the eyes and ears work well.

So, how do you get your 4 or 5 year old ready for school? Let them experience lots of varied play activities to develop all areas of their physical body, which in turn will help to develop their motor planning and thinking skills.

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Swings and activities that encourage balance and the vestibular system

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Monkey bars, climbing and weight bearing activities to help to develop the upper body. Good upper body strength is needed for later handwriting development

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Complex fine motor activities- puzzles, craft , toys that encourage a range of movement in fingers to develop dexterity or handwriting

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Scooter and bikes to encourage balance. Balance is linked closely to eye development and tracking needed for reading.

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Motor planning activities to develop body awareness

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Singing, music and nursery rhymes to develop sequencing and memory skills for comprehension amp; phonemic awareness when reading

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Reading to your child. Sharing and discussing books. Don’t try to teach or force them to read the print until they are ready. Talk about words in their environment eg signs at the shop, numbers etc. They will begin to recognise words and symbols long before they isolate sounds and letters. How many children could recognise their favourite fast food sign in print?

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Dress up opportunities for fantasy play. This helps with imagination, social development and body awareness as they manipulate buttons etc

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Sand and water play helps the child to learn about their environment and many maths skills as they measure and pour.

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Look at their diet- are you feeding their brain or bad behaviour? Letting children eat food that have no nutritional value amp; are full of chemicals is going to hinder good development. Become aware of what you are feeding your child and gradually bring about some changes

Play is the essential ingredient for success at school. There is plenty of time for sitting at a table working through work sheets and writing answers. For instance, instead of expecting a four year old to write numbers down and work through a book, let them count things in a play “shop”, order their toys into groups, count their blocks, Young children will learn far more from their varied play experiences as they develop their physical body ,ready for academic success. Let them move and exercise their body frequently- guess what? They will even sleep more soundly!

Go to www.essentialplay.com.au and request a free handout on school readiness

Cate Larke

Director

Essential Moves Children’s centre amp; Essential Play

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