SCHOOL READINESS-MOST IMPORTANT SKILLS?
Schools readiness is a topic that everyone has an opinion on these days, so how do you find out what the essential skills for school are? What is the right school for your child? When to start your child at school?
The most critical skills for your child to have when starting schools are well developed social and emotional skills.
Top 3 Skills for School
Self-regulation is the ability to understand and manage your behaviour and actions. Some of the self-regulatory skills that your child needs for school are:
Learning – your child needs to be able to sit, attend and listen in the classroom.
Behave in expected ways in the classroom and the playground – your child needs to be able to control impulses.
Make friends – your child needs to be able to share, take turns, compromise and express their emotions appropriately.
Manage stress – your child needs to have the ability to calm themselves down when they get angry.
Resilience is the ability to cope when things go wrong; it’s a child’s ability to be able to bounce back from challenges that they may face in the classroom or playground. At school, challenges may arise in the classroom or the playground. Children need to be able to think flexibly at school and manage their emotions independently if things aren’t going their way.
Resilience is shaped by a child’s upbringing and culture, but can also be taught through social skills. Parents and teachers are vital in building resilience in children. Children are more resilient when they have lots of support around them from family, school and the community. Developing independence in your child builds resilience, as does encouraging them to express and manage their emotions. Encouraging your child to take on personal challenges, also helps build confidence and resilience.
Social skills are the skills children use every day to play and talk to each other. Social skills required for school include skills like being able to:
•Get along with other children
•Demonstrate basic manners
•Play independently as well as with others
•Share with friends
•Listen and focus
•Make eye contact
•Respect personal space
When your child starts school, they will be able to cope if they can’t hold a pencil correctly, write their name or open their lunch box. However, they will struggle if they don’t have well developed social-emotional skills. Transitioning to school is a big step in a child’s life, and they need resilience to manage this successfully.
If you are unsure if your child is ready for school, ask yourself “Do they have the social and emotional skills to cope or would they be better spending another year in preschool?”
At OT4KIDS,We run social skills groups, based on The Social Thinking Curriculum to help children develop these skills before they start school. In a group situation, under the guidance of one of our Occupational Therapists, the children can practise learning how to join in play with their peers and how to manage different emotions.
By Dr Aastha Mahotra
Sr Occupational Therapist