Determining whether your child is ready for school can be a very stressful and challenging decision. With our kids, we have made our decision based on each individual child as opposed to any age based guidelines. As such we have a mix of our kids being amongst the oldest children in the class and some being amongst the youngest in their class.
Are they ready for primary school?
So far our decisions on when our kids were ready for starting primary school have worked out very well – the kids have been happy and have achieved their potential. I have written previous posts on this topic that highlight issues to consider, current research, and some more details on the exact ages our kids went to school. You can find them here:
- School starting age – update
- School Starting Age – Latest Research On Australian Children
- School Starting Age – Our Personal Experience
For many parents COVID-19 restrictions and the associated child care and kindergarten closures have added another layer of complexity to answering the question of whether or not their child is ready for school.
Lauren from memo books has been sharing some great tips and advice from Melbourne based paediatric occupational therapist Debbie Isaac on this very topic and I can highly recommend checking these posts out if you have a child in four year old kinder this year:
- Getting kids school ready in the time of COVID – this includes some very simple things you can be doing at home now to help your child for their first year of school.
- School readiness: trust your gut instincts, parents! – Lauren discusses with Debbie how her and her husband had differing views on when one of their children should start school. This post also has a great Free Drawing Activity Book for children starting school you can download.
Are they ready for secondary school?
The COIVD-19 induced disruption to the normal school year for year six students is something that I know is worrying many parents. Year 6 is a real consolidation year for students and depending on their remote learning this may have been quite disrupted.
In terms of general readiness for starting secondary school these posts on the blog can offers some insights and tips:
- Getting ready for year 7
- 7 tips for first time year 7 parents
- 10 things I have learnt about year 7 And year 7 boys this year
In terms of knowing where your child is at in their COVID-19 interrupted year, my best advice is to talk to your child’s teacher about any concerns you have. You can always take a look at the curriculum in your state to get a base feel for how your child is going. For Victorian students, you can find the Level 6 – Victorian Curriculum here. It outlines each study area in detail (as shown above) including:
- Subject Level Description
- Subject Content Descriptions
- Subject Achievement Standard
Our youngest child is in year six this year and he has spent almost as much time home learning this year as he has at school! Whether it is due to home learning or it is simply just where he is at, when I looked through the English content descriptions, there were a few areas that I have noted that could use some additional home focus:
- Develop a handwriting style that is legible, fluent and that can vary depending on context – so much of remote learning involved using the computer and there was definitely a reduction in the amount of handwriting he was doing. I will be doing simple things like getting him to write my shopping list, having him handwrite a plan before he does writing on the computer, having him write on birthday cards for family members etc. Basically any chance I can get, I will get him to be handwriting!
- Select, navigate and read increasingly complex texts for a range of purposes, applying appropriate text processing strategies to recall information and consolidate meaning – like most boys his age, he has a preference for certain styles of books. They tend to be the humorous style with the characters around his age and set in schools. Last term we made a book list together that he could choose from to read a new book each week. We are going to do this again. I add books to the list that are more complex and books he wouldn’t naturally choose and he chooses half so we have a blend!
- Understand how ideas can be expanded and sharpened through careful choice of verbs, elaborated tenses and a range of adverb groups/phrases – a key reason that I am going to choose some more challenging texts for him is that kids pick up so much about writing from what they read. If they are reading texts with limited vocabulary then it will have an effect on their writing. Also, we still have the paper delivered on the weekend. He has always been the first at the paper to read the sport section and I am working with this, to talk about the words/phrases the journalists use and for what affects. I am also slowly bringing in other sections of the newspaper to read with him!