Blog – Getting Ready for School

December 3, 2018
Blog – Getting Ready for School

This month’s blog article was written by Speech Pathologist Natalie Chorin.

Getting Ready for School

It’s that time of year where preschool children are transitioning into the next chapter of their lives – primary school! It’s not only a change for them, but also for their parents. There are many different areas to consider when deciding whether a child is ‘ready’ for school, so this article will try to help clarify a couple of these areas.

From birth to when children enter formal schooling, children have been preparing themselves to then be immersed into a more sophisticated language environment. Oral language consists of 3 main areas: form, content and use. Form includes understanding and using grammar, producing sentences and phonological awareness (an ability to recognise and understand that words are made up of sounds and can be manipulated). Content includes understanding word meanings and knowledge about the world. Finally, use or pragmatics refers to how we use language for social purposes such as greetings, informing others, negotiating as well as understanding the rules for conversation and reading nonverbal cues (i.e. body language, gestures, facial expressions and tone of voice).

The following skills are important to consider when deciding whether a child is school ready:

  • following 2 and 3 step instructions
  • using grammatically correct sentences
  • understanding and using a range of words
  • telling a simple story in order
  • knowing some letters of the alphabet
  • having some phonological awareness such as syllables, identifying and producing rhyme, enjoying alliteration (e.g. Six silly seals singing songs)
  • knowing how to hold a book and where to start reading from. Having an awareness of print (e.g. signs and labels in the environment) is also helpful
  • recognising their own name
  • taking turns and sharing with others

There is also a strong association between language skills and social and emotional development. Children who have difficulties with their oral language skills (and in particular, pragmatic language skills) are more likely to encounter difficulties with their behaviour including emotional regulation. Conversely, children who have stronger oral language skills are likely to establish good friendships with their peers. Being able to verbalise their point of view, as well as listen to others, initiate and sustain conversations and interactions, are important social skills that help children interact successfully with their educators and peers. These skills also carry over into group work which is a part of schooling.

If you’re in the process of deciding whether your child is ready to start school and think a more formal assessment of their language or social skills would help, please contact the clinic on 9890 1062.