Identifying Whether Your Child Is Ready To Start School

Blog Image for article Identifying Whether Your Child Is Ready To Start School

Is your little one approaching school age? As a parent, you want to do what’s best for your child. One of the biggest decisions you’ll make for your child is when to send them to school. If you send them too early they might not have the skills needed to flourish, whereas if you leave it too late they could quickly become bored and uninspired in their current environment.

There’s nothing more exciting and nerve-wracking than the thought of your kids going to school, but it can be tricky to know whether or not they’re ready for the big move. To help you make the best decision for your child and your family, we’ve pulled together some of the telltale signs that your child is ready to transition to big school.

Is my child ready for school?

If your child is approaching school age, you might have heard the term school readiness being thrown around. Essentially, school readiness refers to whether your little one is ready to make the smooth transition to school and succeed in their new learning environment. 

Rather than focusing on a single skill, school readiness encourages a holistic approach to your child’s development. While they may excel in one specific area, there might be room to improve in other key areas of development, which could mean they’re not quite ready to take the next step into big school. 

Goodstart Early Learning's Chief Children's Officer, Sue Robb, says, “Transitioning to school is such a significant point in time. Children show that they are ready by talking excitedly about their school. They can be confident in asking for help, feel happy about making new friends and can communicate about the transition.”

If you’re finding it difficult to decide whether your child is ready to start school, you can use the following signs as a basis to help guide you in your decision.

Interested in learning

One of the main reasons parents send their children to school is the learn. With this in mind, it helps if your little one is enthusiastic about learning. Does your child ask a lot of questions and seek out answers? If your child shows curiosity and interest in learning new things, you can take it as a good sign they might be ready for school.

Adequate social skills

While your child will continue to develop their social skills throughout their schooling, they need to have a basic level of social skills to help them transition into this new environment. Your child should be able to socialise with other children and communicate with the new adults around them. Can they share, take turns and communicate their needs effectively?


Unlike preschool or kindy, when your child reaches prep or primary school, they need to have a certain level of independence. Can your child follow simple instructions, like putting on their shoes or tidying up after themselves? Another sign that indicates whether your child is school-ready is if they’re able to take themself to the toilet without help. 

Physical readiness

There’s no denying that a full day of school can be exhausting for little bodies, so it’s essential to ensure your child has the physical stamina to cope with a big day of school activities. From sitting still for short periods to participating in physical activities and even using pencils and crayons for an extended period, your child needs to be physically capable of making it through the day.

Motor skills

While we’re on the topic of physical readiness, your child should also have a certain level of gross and fine motor skills. Motor skills play a crucial role in school readiness as they contribute to a child's ability to participate in various activities both inside and outside the classroom.

When it comes to gross motor skills, your child should be able to run, jump, skip and navigate playground equipment like swings and slides. In terms of fine motor skills, children should be able to cut shapes with scissors, hold a pencil and use building blocks or puzzle pieces.


Language and communication skills

Being able to communicate effectively is crucial for success in school. Effective language and communication skills form the foundation for learning, social interaction and expressing thoughts and ideas. 

Your child should be able to speak clearly and articulately to participate in conversations and group discussions. Similarly, they should be able to listen attentively, comprehend conversations and understand simple instructions to get the most out of school.

Literacy skills

In addition to language skills, your child should have basic literacy skills to help them succeed in school. Literacy skills provide the foundation for reading, writing and communicating effectively. They should be able to write and recognise their own name. They should be able to identify numbers, letters and sounds so they can continue to build upon these skills in school.

Cognitive skills

Cognitive skills are essential for effective problem-solving and critical thinking. With school comes new concepts and challenges that your child will have to face and overcome. Look for signs that your child can problem-solve, focus attention and engage in basic reasoning. They should also be able to retain new information while remembering and recalling basic details. 

Emotional readiness

Starting school can be an emotional transition. Children need to be able to ability to adapt to the social and academic demands of their new learning environment. Many children and parents struggle with separation when school first starts, so it’s important that your child is able to cope with being away from you. Further to this, children should be able to manage their emotions and behaviours appropriately. 

A positive self-image and confidence in their own abilities are important for academic and social success. Your child should have a sense of self-worth and believe in their ability to learn and succeed in new situations.

Ability to focus

At school, your child will be required to sit still, listen and focus for an extended period of time. With this in mind, it’s important to make sure your child is able to listen and concentrate throughout the day.

It’s important to remember that every child develops at their own pace, so it's essential to consider these factors in the context of your child's individual strengths and needs. If you’re having difficulty deciding whether or not your little one is ready to transition to big school, it could be worth chatting with their early childhood educator. They’ll be able to provide valuable insights into your child's readiness for school.

How quality childcare can help your child become school ready

Childcare plays a significant role in preparing your child for school by providing a supportive and stimulating environment that promotes physical, social, emotional, cognitive and literacy development. For children approaching school age, many childcare facilities typically have daily routines and schedules that mimic those of school, including designated times for learning, play, meals and rest. This helps children become familiar with the structure of a school day and develop important time management skills.

Moreover, quality childcare providers should be able to tailor their programs to suit the needs of your child while helping them get ready for school. Enrolling your child in a quality childcare service can help them to develop the skills they need to succeed in school. To find a childcare provider near you, use the Care for Kids childcare search tool to search, compare and connect with local services. 

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