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How To Know If Your Child Is Ready For School

Starting school for the first time is a big moment for children and parents. But how do you know if your little one is ready? Our Child Development Expert Fiona O’Farrell gives her advice, on what skills to look out for.

Q: My son has just turned four and I am considering whether to send him to school in September. His friends are all going. Have you any advice?

A: Trying to decide when to send your child to school can be very difficult especially when your child is younger than most of his peers.

I always advise parents rather than focusing on the age your child is, look for emergence of skills which indicate your child is ready for commencing school. This will help your child to succeed rather than struggle during Junior Infants.

You might also like to speak with your child’s preschool teacher to ascertain how your child has progressed throughout the year.

READ NEXT: Top Tips For Starting School For The First Time

Answering yes to the following questions will help you determine if your child is ready for commencing national school in September:

Dressing

  • Can your child pull up his own underwear and trousers?
  • Does your child know front /back of trousers, jumper etc?
  • Can your child put on his own socks and shoes?
  • Can your child put on his own coat

READ NEXT: How To Teach Your Child To Get Dressed

Feeding:

  • Can your child open his lunch box? 
  • Is your child aware of the sequence of food items for lunch example 
sandwich before treat?
  • Can your child open his water bottle
and drink without spilling all over himself? 


READ NEXT: Is My Child Too Young To Start School?

Toileting:

  • 
Can your child urinate into the toilet without spilling all over the floor?
  • Can your child sit on the toilet by 
himself?
  • Can your child wipe his bottom and 
know when his bottom is clean? 


Attention / Concentration 


  • Is your child able to focus and concentrate on five or six adult directed tasks without needing to get up and run around the room?

READ NEXT: Do I Need To Worry About My Child's Painful Shyness?

Social: 


Has your child developed the skills of sharing with peers, turn taking and interacting with peers? To help you prepare your child for commencing school, here are five tips you can practice with your child over the coming months:

  • Help your child develop awareness of right / left. Practice putting on shoes on correct feet.

  • Encourage independence with toileting. Help your child become aware of how to wipe his bottom and know when his bottom is clean.

  • Encourage independence with dressing. Help your child become aware of front and back. Encourage your child to
dress self rather than you completing the task. This is a task you might like to do with your child at weekends and mornings when you have time at your disposal. Not on a morning when you are rushing out the door as this will lead to frustration and anxiety for both you and your child.

  • In preparation for academic tasks, play games which involve your child drawing on paper at eye level, example draw rainbows, balloons etc. This will help your child to develop the skills needed for handwriting.

  • Encourage your child to complete a task, example jigsaw rather than getting up half way through to do something else.

Remember: Readiness for school is more important than age and I hope the above will help make your decision somewhat easier, and lastly if you do decide to keep your child another year in preschool, he will make new friends in time.

Do you have a child starting school for the first time this year? Exciting!


About the Author

Fiona O’Farrell is a Paediatric Occupational Therapist, specialising in baby development, premature babies and is an experienced sleep consultant, validated by the department of health. For information on workshops and sleep consultations visit fionaofarrell.ie or Facebook. Call Fiona on 0879144323

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