WITH Eastern Cape schools already starting to look at prospective children entering Grade 1 next year, it is time for parents to make sure their children are ready to enter into “big” school. And, although 2014 may seem far away, children who turn six by June next year have to start Grade 1 that year – and there is a range of skills necessary to cope with sitting in a classroom.
Experienced Grade 1 teacher Pixie Anderson says school readiness is a stage in a child’s life when he or she is able to learn easily and effectively without emotional or other disturbances.
“Initially, the parent needs to provide the necessary stimuli to build strong language skills, visual and auditory memory skills and ensure that the child is emotionally and socially ready for the many challenges,” Anderson says.
“The child should be able to speak clearly, to understand the language of learning and teaching and be able to express themselves through language.
“They need to be able to do basic counting, know their contact details [telephone number at least], to differentiate between different sounds and be able to write their name, be confident enough to accept the new challenges and be able to absorb knowledge.”
Emotional skills play a large role says Anderson, who has been teaching for 33 years, as the child needs to be able to separate from their parents without any fears.
“They need to control their emotions in a class situation and realise that the needs of others must be considered.
“They need to socially adapt to the changing environment and to the new situations. They must accept the discipline and authority of the teacher. They need to be able to work in a group as well as on their own, be able to compete with others and take turns, evaluate problem situations and feel the need to be accepted in a group,” Anderson says.
Anderson says children also need to be physically healthy, be interested in what they are doing, have the right attitude about learning and have developed the muscular co-ordination needed.
“It is necessary for the child to be able to follow instructions carefully, to concentrate on what is being said and carry out those instructions. Visual and auditory perception are extremely important factors.
“They need to have a strong sense of responsibility – looking after their own possessions, identifying their own belongings, tidying up after themselves and packing things away correctly.”