Deciding if your child is ready for school can cause some anxiety for parents, especially if their birthday happens to make them a particularly young starter. While you might be feeling stressed about the decision, there are some clear signifies that will help you better understand if your child is truly ready.

With inductions about to start and the new school year in sight, now is the perfect time to start preparing for what might feel like the biggest decision in your child’s life.

How can I tell if my child’s ready to start school?

First of all, your child should be able to eat independently without special supervision. Similarly, ensure your child is toilet trained and can go to the toilet independently. This includes the ability to pull up their own pants and wash their hands by themselves.

Getting dressed by themselves is another trait to watch out for, especially putting on or taking off jackets, jumpers or hats. Help your child out by buying shoes that are simple to fasten, such as those with velcro straps, and make sure all their clothes fit well.

There are several basic linguistic skills to watch out for, too. Children should be able to say their own name in their native language, as well as recognise their own name in their native language. Your child should be able to express themselves and clearly communicate if they need help, are hurt, or feel sick. And while no one expects children to start school with perfect writing abilities, it might be worth checking to see if they can at least write the first letter of their own name in their native language.

Another key trait for parents to look out for is the ability to sit still on a chair, at a desk and on the floor for at least 10 to 20 minutes. During school, children are expected to stay in one place for longer than they do at home, and it can often take some adjustment.

And if your child cannot be happily separated from you or your family members for any length of time, it might be worth reassessing if they’re truly ready.

Finally, make sure your child can go the whole day without taking a nap. While many kindergartens include nap time, it’s still important to make sure that they are on their way to a nap free day.

How can I get my child ready?

When it comes to preparing your child for school, there are a few handy tips and tricks that can make the whole process run a lot more smoothly. Opening and closing their lunchbox and drink bottle, for example, is something that can often be overlooked. In the weeks leading up to the big day, get them to eat out of their lunchbox and drink from their bottle, so you can keep an eye out for any potential snags.

Similarly, get your child used to their new school’s eating routines ahead of time. If they’re at home with you, practice feeding them at the same times as school, including morning and afternoon snack breaks.

Visit your school’s transition program to meet other families and get to know your school and its teachers. This will not only help familiarise your child, but put your mind at rest too. This is also a great time to discuss any specific needs your child might have, and iron out any potential sticking points.

Make sure your child understands where they need to go and at what time. Discuss where you will be picking them up from, and visit the pick-up spot the day before or the morning of, so they are familiar with what to do. Explain that the teachers will help and look after them during the day, and that the school can call mum or dad if there’s an issue.

The first day of school is an emotional time for everyone, parents included. While it might be difficult, try your best to control your own emotions. If your child sees you upset, this might trigger their own tears. Just remember: it will get easier.


About the author:
Helen Davis is the Principal of Eastwood Public School, a high value-add NSW Public School in north-west Sydney that offers its students a unique place to learn and thrive. The 900+ student school is large and constantly growing, but no matter the size, the school ensures every single child has a personalised educational experience. With over 94% of students from non-English speaking backgrounds, Helen ensures students receive a truly unique education in a nurturing and supportive environment.


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