Parents face many questions, and even fears, before sending their little one into the classroom. How do I know if my child is ready for school? How does my child compare to their peers, academically and behaviorally? How do I give my child a competitive edge and ensure they are reaching their potential?
Key concepts that will allow you to know your child’s “school readiness” level are:
Understanding and Appreciating your child’s many strengths and talents
- Play up strengths and talents and use them to help compensate for weaknesses
- Are they creative or logical minded?
Understanding the nature of your child’s difficulties and give the tools they need to be successful in school
- Does your child follow directions or seem to understand directions?
- Does your child ask for help/assistance, when needed?
- Does your child lack self-confidence?
Knowing skills to address your child’s individual needs
- What can you do with your child at home to build on skills
Determine if services or other interventions are appropriate
- Should you consider a speech, occupational or physical therapy evaluation?
- Does your child need a behavior plan?
Make sure you are making informed school placement decisions
- Determine if your child will thrive in a more structured/organized classroom versus an independent/free style/Montessori classroom
Have a knowledge of how to advocate for your child in school
- You are the expert on your child, identify which skills your child has down and which ones could still use work.
- When attending school meetings, address these needs as an informed parent with school staff
Know strategies to help increase your child’s confidence and decrease problematic behaviors
- Behavior problems in school are often a result of difficulties that children have and are aware of, but do not know how to deal with; therefore, identifying these issues early can preventive these behaviors from starting
If you find that you don’t feel confident that you have enough information to determine if your child is ready for school, we encourage you to talk to your child’s teacher and to really pay attention to your child and their play style. Are they more independent or do they need a lot of guidance? Are they confident around other children? How do they react when they lose a game or get into an argument with peers? Knowing your child’s tendencies and behavior problems is a great start to knowing their school readiness level.
Parents who want to know more, or who want guidance themselves may consider getting an academic evaluation. Academic evaluations are created with your child in mind, and more importantly, created specifically for your child. The evaluation’s purpose is to identify and address your child’s individual and specific needs. Having your child evaluated helps to determine your child’s school readiness skills, including areas of strength/excellence and weakness/need. In addition, the results of an evaluation will allow you, as the parent, to know how your child is functioning in comparison to their peers and provide you with the ability to not only start off the year on the right foot, giving your child an opportunity to enhance his or her learning from day one, but it also will give you the confidence that you have made excellent decisions and have scientifically tested methods to assist your child before there is even time for a problem to surface.
Overall, an evaluation will provide you with information you need in a world where classroom sizes are growing and the face of education is changing. With the focus being on your child, knowing the above information is integral in helping you, as the parent, feel in control to make educated decisions as it relates to your child’s education. It also gives the teacher information for how to help your child achieve success in the classroom. Remember parents, no matter how you decide to prepare for school, you are ultimately your child’s best advocate and the more you know about your child being ready for school the more you and your child can excel at making school productive and enjoyable.