Myths about school readiness
With acknowledgements to content from Premier Academy (see www.premieracademyinc.com)
When kiddies enter Grade 0 and Grade 1, the words ‘School Readiness’ begin to be heard. Preschool teachers are focused on helping the child achieve a level of readiness that will make it easy for them to adjust to formal schooling from Grade 1. Being school ready actually begins far earlier – and we know that the first few years of life are crucial to brain development. Ultimately it is the network of brain neurons that will ensure a child’s Learning Readiness, which is necessary for coping at school. The communication between different parts of the brain that is made possible by the neural network provides the foundation for adequate development of language, reasoning, problem solving, social skills, appropriate behaviours and emotional intelligence. These areas will ultimately affect a child’s school performance.
Because the schools are focused on academics, it is not surprising that many families believe that a child who is well tutored in academic areas will cope well in school. For this reason, many preschools drill the basics of reading and numeracy.
Premier Academy (see their website above) report that in a recent study, primary school teachers emphasised their belief that children should enter their first years of school with an ability to comprehend broader language and math concepts, as well as to be prepared for the social and emotional demands of school. In fact, 96% of teachers surveyed indicated they believe that social and emotional preparedness are the most important outcomes of a child’s preschool experience in order for them to be poised for academic success in the elementary years.
- Teachers agree that key indicators of the children’s social and emotional readiness for kindergarten and first grade are readiness to accept new responsibilities and greater independence; a strong enthusiasm for learning; an ability to make new friends; and the ability to respect others.
- 96% believe the child’s pre-K experience played a critical role in the child’s preparedness for school.
Common Myths about What School Readiness Means for Your Child
Children who have enjoyed a healthy infancy and early childhood and who come from homes where adults read, spend engaged time with their children, value literacy, and/or have some social interactions with other children in child care, playdates or groups, or preschool are usually well prepared for kindergarten.
But there are some common myths of which to be aware.
- Myth #1 – Learning the ABCs is crucial to school readiness.
The Truth: While important, learning the ABCs is a memorisation skill. It’s more important that children recognize letters and identify their sounds to prepare for school.
- Myth #2 – Children need to count to 50 before going to grade school.
The Truth: Again while it is important that children understand the order of numbers, when it comes to school readiness, it is far more important to understand the idea of 1-to-1 correspondence (each number counted corresponds to an object, person, etc.) and understanding quantity.
- Myth #3 – The more teacher-directed the learning, the better.
The Truth: Children internalise concepts more fully when they are actively engaged in exploration and learning versus being told by someone else. Teachers should be there to guide learning.
- Myth #4 – The more a programme looks like the school we remember as a child the more children will learn.
The Truth: Young child learn best in an environment that allows them to make choices; to select their own materials for at least part of the day; and empowers them to try new things with a teacher who guides the learning.
- Myth #5 – Children need quiet to learn.
The Truth: Children need a language-rich environment where adults provide responsive language interactions and where vocabulary is regularly introduced.
- Myth #6 – Learning to write is all about letter formation.
The Truth: While letter formation is one part, even more important is understanding the idea of recording one’s ideas on paper. When a child makes some scribbles and says “This is my daddy,” write your child’s words on the picture and she will begin to make connections between spoken and written words.
Learning some “school skills” like lining up and raising hands before transitioning to school will certainly help make the transition to formal schooling easier; however, the best way to prepare your children to enter school is giving them the chance to fully explore and experiment in an environment with caring adults who guide, support, and extend their learning.