A person’s life development is influenced by the first five years of their life. Yet children entering the first year of primary school vary in their experiences, culture, family, background and, especially skills and knowledge. Luckily for them, thanks to the research done, there is much information about how to foster early learning.
Some children are likely to start school with limited language skills, health problems, social and emotional problems. These issues interfere with their learning. These problems can be eliminated through early attention and treatment of the child’s needs. Proper screening during a child’s early years goes a long way towards ensuring identification of a child’s difficulties and strength. It can also enable preparation of appropriate interventions that can correct or control a child’s faulty development. Section 10.7 of The Children’s Statute states that parents have a duty to have their child examined to find out as early as possible whether the child is impaired in any way. Disability does not mean the hearing, visually and physically-impaired.
Learning, behavioural and intellectual difficulties are also developmental disabilities. They can co-occur with a physical impairment or independently. Either way, they are of equal concern. Children with learning, behavioural and intellectual impairments have a right to necessary support that will allow them reach their highest potential. School readiness is defined as the process of checking a child’s development to see whether or not they are ready to deal with the challenges that encompass learning in the traditional primary school setting.
It refers to a basic minimum of skills and knowledge for example, it assesses interest in learning and ability to follow instructions — required to thrive and succeed in school. School readiness is assessed through psychological assessment tools. These tools have been designed based on the findings of research and their results can only be interpreted by a psychologist, who is trained in psychometrics. Currently, research has established that there are five domains that, if measured, will illustrate whether a child is ready to begin school.
A school readiness assessment enhances the instruction, received through pre-school/kindergarten/ nursery programs, assessing whether a child’s skills and abilities meet the primary school’s expectations and smoothing the transition from pre-school programs to primary school. Other benefits include detecting indicators of problems that can be solved through early intervention and identifying children, who may be at risk for significant learning or behavioural problems. This will help us identify gifted children, who require a more challenging learning environment and which school level best meets the needs of each gifted child. This will also increase the number of children, who enter school ‘ready’.
It has been proven that children who enter school when they are ready are more likely to succeed, stay in school and later on improve employment outcomes (UNICEF). It also reduces the number of children, who repeat grades. Challenges are beneficial for a number of reasons. However, their benefits depend on a person’s ability to overcome them. If a challenge is beyond a child’s abilities and learned skills, the effects can be detrimental and enduring.
Children’s long-term success is not just about education; life success depends also on whether or not they are ready to face challenges. Primary schooling, therefore, is the first stepping stone on their path of life. Ensure they take that step at the right time, when they are ready.