The importance of being ‘ready’ when starting school

Is my child ready for school? This is a question that is commonly asked to me when parents are considering when to send their child to school. Unfortunately there is no single answer; in fact, there are multiple factors that determine school readiness.

What we do know is that academic factors are not the only important aspect of school readiness. Children need to have sufficient physical ability or physical ‘stamina’ as well as developed social and emotional skills needed to survive all of the challenges associated with school life.

Many parents are aware of their child’s academic, social and emotional readiness as good kindergarten teachers will discuss this progress with parents on a term-by-term basis. Today we are going to explore some physical requirements which are just as important, but are not as often discussed when determining school readiness.

Fine Motor Skills

Children who start school with weak fine motor skills require a lot of cognitive effort just to control a pencil on a page, to use scissors or turn pages of a book. Learning to write and spell words requires a lot of brainpower and cognitive stamina. If a child lacks fine motor control, the stamina required to write and spell is often taken up by the effort required to hold and control a pencil. When children lack speed and control in their writing, they will take longer than their peers to complete tasks and will often demonstrate writing refusal or anxiety.

More than just writing, fine motor skills are essential for children to be independent in and out of the classroom. As a prep teacher, I know how important it is that children are able to demonstrate independence when starting school. Simple activities like zipping and unzipping a school bag, tying shoelaces, opening food containers and packets, dressing oneself and locking and unlocking bathroom door locks are often difficult for children with weak fine motor strength, which often results in the child having to ask a teacher to assist with these simple tasks.

Fine motor strength is an important factor when looking at school readiness as evidence suggests that children with a deficit in their fine motor skills are more likely to demonstrate emotional and behavioural issues as well as low self-esteem.

Gross Motor Skills

Sufficient gross motor skills are necessary for children to carry out day-to-day tasks within a school day. Gross motor skills in a school context include things like:

  • Carrying a school bag
  • Good posture when sitting at a desk
  • Being able to sit upright on the carpet for a period of time
  • Walking between classes without falling over
  • Participating in PE classes and
  • Keeping up with peers when using the playground equipment at recess and lunch time

Poor gross motor skills can impact a child’s academic performance. A child with low muscle tone will find it difficult to maintain appropriate posture at their desk, slump in their chair and will also lead to them becoming fatigued early in the school day, which ultimately leads to poor attention in the classroom.

Gross motor skills also affects a child’s social development in the first few years of school. Children engage in physical play in the playground such as running, climbing, kicking and throwing balls and digging in the sandpit. Children with strong gross motor skills are often seen to be popular by their peers, which results in increased self-confidence. Whilst children who lack gross motor strength experience quite the opposite and are more likely to feel socially inadequate.

Fortunately, daily use of the gross and fine motor muscles will allow children to strengthen and grow their muscles. At La Petite Store, we have developed a product that is designed to leave no child behind. Our Fit Fingers product, incorporates a range of engaging activities that will allow your child to practice their fine motor skills on a daily basis. This is so that they are able to strengthen their muscles and be able experience success at school and home when completing simple everyday tasks.

Until midnight October 3, we are offering a ‘back to school’ $10 off discount on all Fit fingers Packs. Simply enter the discount code: BacktoSchoolSep16.