Ready for Big School?

Mar 19, 2024 | Children, School Readiness

The transition to kindergarten is an exciting step for every child. It tends to prompt conversations about what ‘school readiness’ looks like, and how parents can best prepare their child for the first year of schooling. Typically, the answers tend to focus on how the child is prepared academically, including whether they can already recognise and write letters and numbers or hold a pencil.   

However, there are other foundational skills that should be considered in preparing your child for their first year of big school. These include emotional regulation, communication, play skills, self-care, and attention. These provide the stable foundation from which a child can be available and ready to learn and set them up for success in the classroom and playground.    

Some questions to consider about each area include:   

Emotional skills 

  • Are they able to separate from their caregiver? 
  • Are they able to communicate when they need or want something? 
  • Are they able to cope with mistakes or things not going their way?

Social skills 

  • Are they able to speak in sentences and be understood? 
  • Are they able to interact and play with other children? 
  • Are they able to communicate and negotiate during play? 


  • Are they aware of when they need the toilet and can toilet independently, including washing their hands afterwards? 
  • Are they able to dress themselves? 
  • Are they able to manage their bag and lunchbox? 
  • Are they able to keep track of their belongings? 


  • Are they able to sit on the floor and at the table while listening? 
  • Are they able to follow instructions with more than one step?

Any questions that you have answered ‘no’ or “I don’t know” provide a helpful guideline on how to help your child prepare for school.  

During all the orientation days, letters from the teacher and preschool graduations, take a moment to breathe and enjoy this moment of your child stepping into their next stage of school life. It is exciting!  

But remember that children learn at different rates. If your child has not mastered their letters or cannot remember the days of the week, those skills can be learnt and will come. Instead, consider how you can help your child build the foundational skills that will support their availability for learning.  

If you are concerned about your child’s school readiness, talk to your child’s preschool educator, or seek out the opinion of an Occupational Therapist for more information. 

Author: Caitlin Venn – Occupational Therapist