For parents and children, the transition to Grade 1 is a time of great excitement and anxiety.
How do you know if your child is ready for this step?
First, parents need to be guided by qualified teachers to assess a child’s readiness to start and take the step towards the start of formal schooling.
• What exactly is preparation for school?
School readiness is a measure of a child’s readiness to succeed in school and involves two types of preparation: readiness to learn (which is ongoing) and school readiness (which is associated with a fixed age).
School readiness depends on both emotional maturity and academic ability. It is divided into different areas, and although these areas are separate, they interact and reinforce each other.
Children need to be developed in these five key areas:
1. Physical and motor development
• Gross motor skills, eg running, jumping, standing on one leg.
• Fine motor skills, eg comfortable with a pair of scissors, succeeding in making zippers and buttons, being able to use cutlery.
• Perceptual development, both visual and auditory.
• By taking care of them, the example manages to go to the bathroom on her own.
2. Emotional and social development
• An emotionally well-adjusted child is much more likely to be successful in school.
• Get along with peers, can interact in a group or take an interest in other children, ready to help a friend.
• Can express feelings and needs.
• Can share.
• Can remain seated, for example long enough to listen to a story.
• Can concentrate on a task for a reasonable amount of time.
• Able to deal with frustration in an acceptable manner.
3. Cognitive development
• Can make independent decisions and follow up.
• Have their own ideas.
• Can follow simple instructions or directions.
• Shows an interest in learning.
4. Language development (includes literacy, listening, speaking and vocabulary)
• Must be able to communicate effectively in the language spoken at home.
• Be able to sequence (tell a story or a set of events).
• Identify the similarities and differences between objects.
5. Emotional maturity
• Reasonable control of emotions.
• Basic problem solving skills.
• Demonstrates responsibility.
• Handles separation well
Head of Department at St Martin’s Junior Preparatory Phase in South Johannesburg, Jenny Trollip encouraged parents to start introducing their child into the routine for grade one. St Martin’s is well known for its smaller classes, passionate teachers, individual attention and holistic education, and Trollip offers the following tips for establishing a routine.
Establish a morning routine
Your child should go through the same sequence of activities every morning so that it becomes an automatic chain of tasks. This leads to a feeling of independence on the part of your child. A suggested morning routine might include the following: wake up, have breakfast, ablutions, get dressed, get school bag and lunch, walk to the car.
Set up an evening routine
The goal of this routine is to calm your child down. They can relax knowing they are ready for the next day at school. Ideas for this routine might include taking off the school uniform, bath time, silent play with no screen time, story time, and finally bedtime. A 1st year child must be in bed between 7:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Allocate space for homework
Your child will need a place to do homework where distractions are limited. Have specific stationery available so that they can perform the given tasks correctly. Create a homework routine, with a specific time, a sequence of activities to follow and finish by packing the school bag. Homework in Grade 1 should be supervised by an adult who can create a positive environment.
Prepare a healthy snack box
Discuss nutritional options and treats with your child. Prepare a menu together. Take into account that these snacks will need to support your child for at least six hours at school.
Communication is the key
When your child starts first grade, make sure that as parents you are on the school app and the class dojo, or any other communication mechanism used in school so you know this. happening and don’t miss the special days.
In addition to establishing a routine, parents can take the time to prepare their children for this new stage in their life by
• Reading to their child.
• Teach their children songs, rhymes and poems.
• Take your children on excursions, for example to museums.
• Create regular opportunities to play on dates.
• Play games to help your child begin to recognize colors, numbers and letters.
Cherish the moments spent with your child and enjoy their school career with them. The first year is exciting and the memories created this year should be filled with laughter and fun.