Is My Child Ready For School?

Jul 26, 2021

When our children are born, and maybe even before, the worrying begins. Are they eating enough? Are they sleeping enough? Are they learning enough?

With each new phase it seems we are met with a new worry. Once they turn 4 (or 5 in some places), parents who choose to send their children to school are now faced with the new worry "Are they ready for school?" 

To answer that we need to ask what makes a child "ready" for school? 

Are they ready for school when they can be dropped off at the door and bravely walk in? While we can try our best to prepare our children for the big change that is starting school, the truth is that every child is different and that every child is going to experience this life event in a different way.

This became all too real for me last year. My youngest was starting Kindergarten in a way that was foreign to everyone (Thanks COVID!). These people he had never met before were wearing mask, goggles, and shields. He wasn't allowed on this awesome play structure, he had to keep his distance from these new children that he had never met, and many other guidelines not even I, the adult can remember. Knowing all of this I did my absolute best to prepare him for his first day. We role played as often as possible, every Lego scene was a Mom dropping off her child at school. We read books, talked about how it might feel, and walked past the school several times a week. I thought I had it all under son had other thoughts.

The morning of his first day he seemed excited, we as a family brought him to the gate and went to give him a kiss goodbye. To my absolute surprise he latched onto me and would not let go! After several "I love you" and "You are safe" messages the teacher helped him off of my husband and I left a sobbing, emotional mess.

What did I miss?

What did I not prepare him for?

Where could I have done better?

All your typical Mom quilt questions. I did everything under my control to prepare him for this change but what I forgot to account for is that I do not control his emotions. No matter what I could do he was going to process this in his own way, as if I needed another sign that he was becoming his own person, right? 

So, did my son's reaction to his first day mean he wasn't ready for school? Of course not. Even with all the preparing this was still a huge life change, and he was entitled to process that in whatever way felt right. After having the space to process his emotions and being  at school for a short time he absolutely loved it, and asked to go every day after! 

So, are they ready for school when they know all of their letters and numbers? This is a pressure that all parents feel leading up to school. Remember when Kindergarten was designed to prepare children for Grade school. A time to teach children the letters of the alphabet, numeracy and socials skills. Somewhere along the way we started expecting children to be ahead of the game before even entering Kindergarten and then that became the new norm. Adding yet another stress to parents as school approaches.

Let's remember that the most developmentally appropriate way for a PREschool child to learn is through play. Play as much and as often as possible, with as many different materials as possible. Letting children be children just a little bit longer and allowing Kindergarten to be the first real introduction to school in the fun-loving manner it was meant to. We place so much importance around literacy and numeracy that often times other skills get left behind. Important skills, skills such as social and emotional skills for example. 

If we are going to worry about our children being ready for school, let's shift that to preparing their social and emotional brain for the new expectations coming. Can they communicate their needs (Bathroom, Ask for help, Ask a question, etc.)? Can they use their words when talking to peers instead of their hands? Can they or will they speak up for themselves? These skills, to me, seem like the most important when sending any child into an unknown environment. Knowing your ABC's never helped anyone I know find a bathroom or get their truck back. 

If you are finding yourself overcome with worry about this new chapter in your child's life and are looking for more support, join the Membership below and attend our next meet-up (Aug. 12th) all about school "readiness" and how we can prepare our children. 

Looking for something more 1 on 1?

I help committed parents of children age 1 to 10 move from questioning their parenting to being the confident parent they are meant to be. I do this through supporting parents create boundaries and routines tailored to their family goals using 1:1 coaching sessions 

Book a time with me to chat HERE!

You got this!