Parenting today: School ready age a crucial factor

By law all children have to enter formal teaching in the year they turn seven

Parents of today need support for the upbringing of their children. They need assurance, above all, that all will be well with their children when they have to go to school!

Is my child mature enough? How can I be sure?

What is school readiness (SR)?

SR assessment aims to measure the child’s readiness to enter formal teaching.

It will measure the child’s interests, ability and emotional strength to cope, social skills and self-confidence.

It will determine self-control, self-discipline and security, as well as the child’s ability to listen, concentrate and follow instructions.

SR is meant to find a balance between risk and readiness factors and advise parents of the best practice.

Why is it important to assess for SR?

The success of the child’s first year at school is critically important. This responsibility rests squarely on the shoulders of the parents or guardians.

When is it important to conduct an assessment?

Parents often believe that if their child has attended pre-school or nursery school, the child is ready.

This is not necessarily so.

SR begins at home.

Teaching children elementary skills such as providing opportunities to develop motor skills, teach them to accept small responsibilities, accept limits and boundaries, encouraging language stimulation and listening skills, will all have a positive effect on the child’s overall development.

When must I send my child to ‘big school’?

By law, all children have to enter formal teaching in the year they turn seven.

Time has a lot to do with SR because time in a child’s life means time to develop and mature.

One can stimulate development, but not maturity.


Example 1: John was born on 13 March 2012. He must go to school in 2019. He will turn 7 in March 2019. Why can’t John go to school in March 2018?

He can, but he needs to be professionally assessed to determine the best long-term practice. Children who are born after month June are at risk!

Example 2: (compare with previous example) Richard’s birth date is 29 June 2012. He is 5 years 1 month old. He has to go to school in 2019. Richard will be 5 years 7 months when starting Grade 1 in 2018 and 6 years 7 months starting Grade 1 in 2019. Both ways, Richard must be assessed for SR. He may qualify for exemption should he not be ready.

Parents who are in doubt are advised to have their children professionally assessed.

• Henk Kaldenberg is a registered counselling psychologist in Empangeni and can be reached on 072 9297671 or email [email protected]


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Henk Kaldenberg

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