Starting School At Terang College

Basic Skills Needed For Starting School

1. Getting along with others – “Social Development”

At school, the child needs to have appropriate social skills at two levels:-

a) The child needs to be able to mix with adults outside the family.  In particular they need to be able to listen to the teacher, tell and ask things and do what is asked.

b) The child needs to be able to get on with other students.  At school this means:

- Participating in groups
- Cooperating
- Playing without adult supervision
- Taking turns
- Sharing
- Caring for belongings and respecting those of others
- Respecting the rights of others.

Even though the student has spent at least one year at kindergarten with 25 or so other children they may not have mastered many of these social skills required for school.

Social development can be enhanced by encouraging the following activities:

- Playing games with other students/adults
- Sharing activities, e.g. passing things
- Helping around the house
- Having visitors
- Being minded
- Shopping
- Talking to postmen, doctors, etc.

Turning off the television and playing a game with the family automatically encourages sharing, taking turns, following directions, abiding by rules, helping  the student come to grips with losing and winning and so on.

2.  Growing maturity – ‘Emotional Development’

Children must be emotionally secure if they are too confident, happily and successfully tackle the new challenge of school.

a) Able to separate easily from parents.

The student who cannot will not be able to concentrate and settle easily into the activities of the day.

b) Able to control themselves and cope with feelings.

Temper tantrums are not appropriate behaviour for a school student and good peer relations will be difficult for the student who has not learnt that their needs cannot always be met immediately.  They need to be able to share attention and not be afraid of day to day issues.

c) Condifident and secure

Self confident students are more likely to be able to meet challenges of school.  The confident student keeps trying because they know they have been successful in the past.

d) Responsible

The students, who take no responsibility for their own clothes or their own mess, etc., make problems for themselves and their teacher.

e) Independence

Students who can work independently at school are able to attempt far more and hence learn more.

Emotional development can be encouraged by:

- Preparing the student for school
- Being positive about school
- Not putting pressure on the student to miss the parent and asking, “Did you miss me?”
- Not giving into tantrums
- Expecting the student to wait
- Not giving the student everything they want
- Not overdoing assurances about being there when school goes out
- Showing and telling the student that they are loved
- Building up self confidence as much as possible
- Giving the student tasks they can complete
- Teaching the student to wait until the parent is able to attend to them
- Listening to the student
- Letting the student decide where appropriate and respecting their decision
- Giving the student experience and responsibility
- Giving the student autonomy where appropriate

3. Growth in Ability to Understand and Know – “Intellectual Development”

Students come to understand things by seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling and doing.  For example, before students can understand what they read, they need to have heard the words and know what they mean.  Similarly, before they can work out sums, they need to know about ‘more’ and ‘less’, ‘bigger’ and ‘smaller’, etc.  Children are better prepared to learn at school if:

- They have a good grasp of language
- They have had a broad range of experiences upon which to build
- They have been stimulated by their parents through interactions such as having stories read to them, visiting different places, being spoken to and listened to, having questions answered, etc.

Knowing and understanding can be increased by:

- Drawing the students attention to signs, advertisements and explaining what they mean
- Reading to the student
- Telling stories to the student
- Talking and listening to the student
- Giving reasons for actions to the student
- Helping the student count a few objects around the house
- Talking about time
- Letting the student buy things
- Helping the student build things
- Letting the student play with water, sand, dough, etc.
- Joining the library

4. Physical Growth

The student who is beginning school should:

- Be out of the habit of an afternoon sleep
- Be used to eating a cut lunch and feeding themselves, (unwrapping, peeling fruit, etc.)
- Be accustomed to using public toilets and able to manage themselves at the toilet. ( (Dressing: buttons, zippers, etc.  Hygiene: washing and drying hands)
- Be able to blow their nose
- Have developed eye-hand coordination
- Be able to put on/take off jumpers, coats and shoes
- Have parents who will advise the teacher of any health problems

Most of the above can be enhanced with practice and appropriate training by parents.

Beginning School

As the time gets close for the student to start school there are a number of things which parents can do to help the student settle in easily.  Here are some ideas:

- Point out the different school buildings and playground areas.
- Once school starts, make sure they know where to meet you.  If students are to feel secure, - it is important they they are met on time.
- Give them practice in saying their names and addresses.
- Label any clothes that may be taken off, together with things like lunchboxes, school bags, etc.  Show the student the label and say something like, “see, I’ve put your name here in blue pencil”
- Talk about the difference between playtime and lunchtime.  Show them what food you have packed each morning and say when you expect it to be eaten.  Make sure they can easily open the lunchbox and drink container.  Sandwiches that are individually wrapped area easier to handle.
- Choose a schoolbag that is a suitable size for the student.  Bags that are too big are awkward and tiring, but they need to be large enough to fit all their belongings.


The decision about when any particular child should begin school must always be an individual one.  Parents should listen to the advice coming from their pre-school staff and avoid being influenced by friends, relatives or neighbours.  If in doubt, remember the ideal better late than early.

To assist parents and teachers in making this difficult decision, the Australian Council for Educational Research has published a checklist for school beginners.

Checklists of this kind are not examinations and are not used to exclude a child if it cannot perform every item.

Satisfactory performance comes with time and experience.  Pressurised coaching before the child is ready will only delay readiness for school and should be avoided at all costs.

Students may be ready for school when they are able to:

1. Say their full name
2. Tell someone their correct address and telephone number
3. Recognise their name in print
4. Understand the dangers of traffic, electricity, fire, water and high places
5. Recognise their own belongings
6. Talk in sentences
7. Communicate needs
8. Remember little songs and rhymes
9. Dress themselves most of the time
10. Wash face and hands unassisted
11. Manage toilet visits unaided
12. Enjoy drawing and painting
13. Manage scissors reasonably well
14. Can go on short messages alone
15. Assist with little household tasks
16. Choose their own TV programs
17. Interested in looking at books
18. Listen carefully to stories and read alone
19. Play happily with other children
20. Are careful when using other people’s belongings
21. Listen without interrupting another child who is talking
22. Take turns on playground equipment
23. Make friends reasonably easily

Readiness may also be indicated if they do not:
24. Cry for lengthy periods when upset
25. Avoid play with others
26. Have frequent temper tantrums when upset or corrected
27. Constantly move without rest
28. Become anxious in the absence of parents

Most Children begin school at five years of can also 

29. Stand on each leg alternatively
30. Walk voluntarily on a balance beam
31. Hop on one leg
32. Do up buttons
33. Draw reasonably straight line of about 10cm in length
34. Draw a recognisable picture of a house and a person
35. Colour in without crossing the lines
36. Cut out a simple shape neatly
37. Count to 10 without error
38. Name from memory, in any order four objects shown briefly
39. Can go on with other work when finished, without direction
40. Speak in complete sentences
41. Understand simple concepts such as is/is not,  small/smaller, large/larger, high/higher

@Terang  College