Starting primary school is an exciting and nerve-racking time for parents and children. To give our kids the best chance at a successful start, they need to be “school ready”.
When assessing whether your child is ready for school, there are several factors to consider. Your child’s ability to socialize, identify and control emotions, manage their toileting habits, as well as their fine motor skills, are all crucial. However, their ability to communicate in verbal and non-verbal ways is arguably one of the most significant factors to impact your child’s long-term educational experience.
A child’s language skills have a proven relationship to the success of their school transition. When children are not school-ready, their ability to learn, follow instructions, socialize and have positive experiences can be impacted. A child who struggles with the school transition can develop a dislike of school that lasts beyond their first year of education. It is essential to assess your child’s capabilities and coping skills neutrally to avoid ongoing educational problems.
To determine if your child is ready for school, start by talking to their preschool teacher. Your child’s teacher will be able to give you a reliable indicator of how your child copes in a classroom setting. Question them about all aspects of your child’s daily routine, including peer interactions, writing development, concentration skills, their ability to wait and share, toileting habits as well as their verbal and non-verbal communication.
After more than three decades of practice with thousands of clients, Principal Speech Pathologist, Vince Borg, recommends you also ask yourself the following questions:
- Can my child be easily understood by unfamiliar adults?
- Do I find myself explaining my child’s sentence, or do siblings help to translate their speech?
- Does my child become frustrated when communicating?
- Does my child become frustrated with other people’s inability to understand them?
- Are there any sounds which your child has difficulty with, particularly: s, sh, ch, k (c), g or f?
- Does my child stutter over certain words?
- Does my child have a lisp?
- Can my child follow instructions with more than one directive?
To help prepare your child for the school year ahead:
- Read longer and more complex books together at home to help improve their vocabulary.
- Ask your child questions involving past and present tense, such as: “What happened yesterday?” and “How do you feel today?”
- Emphasise the different sounds in words that your child struggles to pronounce.
- Repeat same-sound words, such as: “cream, car, key, cow.”
- Encourage awareness about the shapes and tongue movements needed to make different sounds. Use a mirror to assist in their understanding.
- Practice giving your child instructions involving two or three steps, such as: “Please put your shoes in the wardrobe, and then come and help me feed the dog.”
- Keep a record of any concerns or sound errors your child makes.
- Seek professional support to enhance your child’s speech capabilities.
For children with speech difficulties, a speech pathologist can advise you on your child’s communication and whether this may impact their school readiness in associated areas such as literacy and social development. Together you can become equipped with the necessary tools for a successful school transition.
By learning techniques in the clinic to practice at home, your child’s speech can radically transform, setting them on track for a positive education experience next year and into the future.
Early intervention is always the best way to manage and improve speech habits. If you have concerns about your child’s ability to communicate at school next year, talk to one of our accredited speech pathologists.
To make an appointment at Box Hill Speech Pathology Clinic, phone (03) 9899 5494 or book online at www.speech-therapy.com.au