By Karen van der Berg
Perhaps your young one is only starting out with Grade R and there is still a whole year left before she has to be ready for school. However, if parents realise at the beginning of this important school year what is going to be expected at the end of the year, it could help to prepare your child optimally for what lies ahead.
Carla Grobler, an occupational therapist from Pretoria, says a lot of emphasis is being placed on school readiness nowadays. The question, then, is, what is school readiness?
“All children develop in different ways and at different rates. A child’s development is therefore influenced by their own unique personalities, their strong and weak points, their environment, the experiences and opportunities they have and are exposed to.”
Carla says that is why it is wrong to think that it only has to do with the child’s intelligence. A few skills also come into play:
- motor, visual and auditory-perceptual abilities
- emotional and social development
- language and mathematical/numeric development
- cognitive reasoning ability, memory and general knowledge
Carla says each of these skills forms an integral part of the child’s school readiness and if one phase or skill is lagging, it could have a negative effect on the rest of the child’s skills.
“School readiness therefore forms an important foundation for every child’s school career because it has a big effect on how a child experiences success, on his self-confidence and therefore his total scholastic experience. With a view to school readiness it is therefore important to broaden a child’s self-confidence, field of experience and how he feels about things .”
In the Grade R year your child will also be subjected to a school readiness diagnostic assessment (SRDA). “The diagnostic school readiness assessment analyses the child’s development and readiness for formal school education.”
Carla says it focuses on the following areas of development:
- social and emotional development
- physical and large motor development
- visual perception and integration
- mathematical and numeric skills
- body awareness and self-knowledge
- language, cognitive thought and auditive perception
The assessment process usually consists of the following:
- Parents will complete basic background questionnaires.
- The assessment takes about two-and-a-half hours.
- A complete report is compiled on the basis of the above-mentioned areas and recommendations and references are made to address possible problem areas.
- Feedback interviews are held to discuss the results with parents.
Carla says the ideal time to do a school readiness assessment is six months before a child starts with Grade 1 because that leaves enough time to give attention to possible problem areas.
She also says that most schools make their own arrangements for these tests, but it could also be done privately by occupational therapists.
“This is all quite a mouthful, but if a child is ready for Grade 1 it makes the adaptation so much easier. It is really important that a child should be ready.”