How do I know if my child is school-ready?

3 min read   •   July 25, 2018
Hilda Erasmus: Foundation Phase Specialist

School readiness is one of the biggest concerns for a Grade R parent. How do you know if your child is ready to start “big school”? If you as a parent talk to other parents then you will hear how their children can build words and do sums and suddenly you start to doubt your child’s ability and whether he/she is really ready to attend school.

Perhaps you should have prepared your child better so he could have a head start over the other children or maybe you should have started doing basic Grade 1 work in the afternoon after school.

School readiness is divided into three basic skills:



The child must have the ability to understand, reason and interpret new concepts. At that age, they absorb and process all new information. If you teach a sound to a child, they will probably remember it, but there are other skills that are more important to your child’s school readiness.

Because we are experiencing such a big change in our society where both parents work, parents often focus on developing intellectual skills and not physical or social skills. Televisions and computers have also become an easy way to keep children busy while parents are making food or doing the washing. Although it is not wrong, as children acquire general knowledge, parents must also remember to play outside with their child by kicking the ball around or playing hide-and-seek.



A child who is physically strong, who can comfortably run, jump, climb and clamber also has the ability to concentrate for longer. They can use their muscles to sit up straight for longer, hold a pencil and focus for 40 minutes at a time on what is being discussed in class.

A child who is only intellectually stimulated (learning basic Grade 1 work) does not get a chance to develop these muscles. These are the learners who hang over their work or lay on their arms and get tired quickly. They do not complete their class work on time and have to do it for homework. Parents then wonder what happens at school because they have to sit till late in the afternoons and do homework.


Social and emotional development

Your child is going from his safe environment to a structured environment with other routines, longer hours and more pressure. Perhaps there won’t be anybody that he/she knows. For your toddler, it is the same as going to Grade 1.

If your child can not play socially with other children, they do not learn how to handle difficult situations. A child who is not socially and emotionally ready will scream blue murder and cling to their mother’s skirt (We also know that some children can exaggerate a little). In playing there is conflict, unhappiness, dishonesty, and the poor teacher acts as a judge, but this teaches the children how to handle and process difficult situations. This skill will teach them how to handle stressful situations for the rest of their lives and how to be adaptable to the unknown.