Educational Psychologist Stacey Cohen discusses the importance of emotional readiness in determining whether your child is ready to start school.
Although age is a factor in determining whether a child is ready for school, Stacey Cohen of Budding Minds says parents should not overlook their child’s emotional readiness.
According to Stacey, parents should be mindful of whether their child is emotionally ready before sending them to school to avoid negatively impacting their child’s learning experience.
“We need to consider a child’s school readiness. If they are not school ready, which refers to a child’s cognitive and emotional level that is needed to cope with the demands of Grade 1, then a child will find the Grade 1 learning load overwhelming. This is problematic as this will affect their receptivity to learning, causing them to fall behind – which will have its emotional effects,” she says
“According to the article by Bruwer, Hartell and Steyn (2014), a child who begins school when they are not school ready is at risk of school failure.”
“Not being ready for school on a cognitive and emotional level may also influence a child’s attitude towards school from a young age. This is one of the points raised by the ‘Too much, Too soon’ campaign in the UK,” says Avika Daya, an Educational Psychologist.
Not being emotionally ready will not only affect your child’s learning, but even plays a role in how they interact with their peers.
“A child’s social functioning is important to consider for school readiness as some children can handle the academic nature of Grade 1, however, they may struggle with their peers which can contribute negatively to handling life situations and solving conflict. In essence, it is a child’s emotional intelligence that plays a factor in their way with their peers,” says Stacey.
She adds that having positive peer relationships is crucial in how a child will feel about themselves, and handle groups and their goals.
“In addition to this, a child’s concentration or ability to sustain an appropriate level of sustained attention at a time is important to assess for school readiness. Many factors can affect concentration such as emotional factors, insufficient meals or a neurological imbalance, thus all must be considered in assisting a child to have an appropriate level of attention for Grade 1.”
Stacey advises parents whose children are not emotionally ready to encourage their children to undergo a school readiness assessment by a psychologist.
“In terms of help available, there are many avenues of help. Children who are not ready for Grade 1 can repeat their Grade R year or enroll into a Grade R in order to use the year to gain the essential skills needed for Grade 1. Moreover, undergoing a school readiness assessment by a psychologist is important as it will help to highlight a child’s strengths and growth areas that their parents and preschool can assist with,” concludes Stacey.