School Readiness Skills

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School readiness skills include, but are not limited to:

  • Self regulation – the capability to maintain and change emotional behaviour, attention span and activity levels;
  • Sensory processing – processing environmental stimulation;
  • Receptive language skills – comprehensive of the spoken language;
  • Expressive language – speech that can be easily understood by others;
  • Emotional regulation – the ability to perceive emotions in others and regulate their own emotions;
  • Social skills – the ability to engage in reciprocal interactions with others – both verbally and non-verbally;
  • Some academic basics – writing their own name;
  • Ability for self care – independent toileting, opening their own lunches;
  • Attention and concentration spans;
  • Physical skills – gross motor and fine motor skills.

Doye, A. Transition to school  Early Horizons Vol 6 issue 2 2017

What is Social Competence?

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Social competence can be viewed as children knowing:

  • How to act in a variety of settings – be that at home or in new situations they might find themselves in. This could be coming to Kindy or going to school, or a sport/dance club.
  • How to act when alone, with family, peers, and with other adults.
  • How to get along with people they might know well – what is acceptable and what is not, or if just meeting someone for the first time, or those children who are here at kindy, but not necessarily classed as ‘friends.’
  • How to interact with people that don’t mean a lot to you or you don’t like (strategies include: scripting, modelling, facilitating).

As much as we want to make the road smooth for our children, there are some things we as parents cannot do for them and this particularly pertains to Social Competency. Children need to have mastered some strategies they can rely on by the age of 6 years. In psychological terms, this age is crucial.


Traits of social competence

These don’t prescribe correct social behaviour but by observing, we can understand and support children who are still developing social skills.

For the individual:

  • Usually positive
  • Comes to kindy willingly
  • Copes with rebuffs or disappointments
  • Shows interest in others
  • Growing capacity to empathise
  • Capacity for humour
  • Does not seem lonely
  • Interacts non vebally with others – smiles, waves, nods
  • Expects a positive response when approaching others
  • Expresses wishes/preferences clearly – gives reasons for action/position
  • Is not easily intimidated/bullied
  • Gains access to ongoing play
  • Can express anger without escalating disagreements or harming others
  • Take turns fairly
  • Can enter ongoing discussion/relevant contributions
  • Has positive relationships with one or two peers – really shows they care about them
  • Give and take – materials, info, feedback
  • Negotiates and can compromise
  • Maintains friendships
  • Can accept people with difference – be that special needs, ethnicities

With peers:

  • Usually accepted rather than rejected by other children
  • Respected, not avoided
  • Invited to join in play
  • Named by others as friend – like to play with

With adults:

  • Not totally dependent on adults
  • Shows appropriate response to new adults


Recognition of when it’s not developing normally

Children’s development varies. Not all will do things at the same age/stage as others.


Delayed gratification and self regulation

Most important is the child learning about self-regulation or delayed gratification. Children under the age of three can’t do this, so don’t panic.


Specific strategies to support social confidence
  • Scripting – some children have difficulty expressing their ideas verbally. How to express feelings and opinions
  • Negotiating – joining in. It’s ok to say no (scripting) and to honour this.
  • Making friends – kindy friendships are important but not the be all and end all of friendships (transient often at this age). When a child goes to school it might be that s/he may not even go to the same school, or be in the same class. A child who started 3 weeks earlier may have established a ‘new’ friend.
  • Sharing – sit with them and encourage them to watch what the other child is doing with the toy. Ask for a turn and don’t always get given straight away.
  • Reward the positive – try to ignore the negative, although this is not always possible. Not necessarily with a bought item. Let the child choose, play at the park, ice-cream.
  • Challenge and change – I love you – I don’t like the behaviour. And not at the time when everyone is fired up.

However, there may be other factors contributing to your child’s behaviour. Maybe something is happening at home eg: moving home, new baby, illness or death of a grandparent or maybe some other family factor. Children are very astute and often pick up on vibes and snippets of conversation happening around them.

When your children have several people looking after them, they can get too many rule structures they have to try to remember e.g. at home, grandparents’ home, kindy, daycare/nanny etc.

We as educators monitor your child’s progress. If we have any concerns we will discuss and observe firstly, and we often tell you about your child’s day. If we do discuss an issue that has arisen – this is no reflection on your parenting. It is just that we want to be on the same page with you so we are consistent with how we deal with it. We deal with inappropriate behaviour quite regularly. We want the best for your child. Best practice encourages creating a shared understanding between us (educators) and parents

  • Be flexible but strong – you are the adult.
  • Be fair, listen and you may even change your mind,
  • KFC – Communicate kind, firm and calm.
  • Speak well of the child in the presence of others.
  • What can I learn from a child’s eyes? I can recognise when s/he is nervous, excited, frustrated.

From Pio Teri – the Parenting Place

10 Things to Say Instead of “Stop Crying”

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  1. “It’s ok to be sad.”
  2. “This is really hard for you.”
  3. “I’m here with you.”
  4. “Tell me about it.”
  5. “I hear you.”
  6. “That was really scary/disappointing/upsetting/sad, etc.”
  7. “I will help you work it out.”
  8. “I’m listening.”
  9. “I hear that you need space. I want to be here for you. I’ll stay close so you can find me when you’re ready.”
  10. “It doesn’t feel fair.”

Stop Saying “Be Careful” and what to Say Instead

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1. “Stay focused on what you’re doing.”

2. “What is your next move?”

3. “Do you feel safe there?”

4. “Take your time.”

5. “Does that branch feel strong and stable?”

6. “I’m here if you need me.”

7. “Please find a safe spot for your stick while you’re running.”

8. “I’ve noticed that this is a really busy area and I’m worried that someone not playing this game might get knocked over. Watch out for other people and give them lots of space.” Or, “Lets move to this lower-traffic zone.”

9. “I’ve noticed that there are a lot of fallen trees and sticks to trip on here. Watch out!” Or, “Should we move this game to a more open area?”

10. “Sticks need space. Mike, please back up from Sarah. She’s holding a big stick!”

11. “Sticks need space. Look around you – do you have enough space to swing that big stick?”

12. “Please keep one end of your stick on the ground!”

13. “What’s your plan with that big stick?”

14. “Rocks need space!”

15. “Find more space!”

16. “Before you throw that rock, what do you need to look for?”

17. “Please move slowly and carefully near the __.”

18. “Please give each other lots of space so that no one feels like they need to push, and no one gets knocked over by accident.”

19. “Do you feel stable/balanced?”

20. “Do you need more space?”

21. “Make eye contact before you tackle someone. Make sure they know you are coming so that they can get their body ready.”

22. “Check in with each other. Make sure everyone is still having a good time.”

23. “Ask her if she’s ok.”

24. “Ask him if he’s still having fun.”

25. “Did you like that? Make sure you tell her if you didn’t like that.”

26. “If you need to run, meet me at the next rail marker!”

27. “Let’s check this cave/fort to make sure it’s safe to hide in.”

Via the Child and Natural Alliance of Canada

Tips for settling your child

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Children take time to adjust to new surroundings and to build relationships with others both adults and children.
Here are some strategies that we have found successful over our many years of teaching.

Always say goodbye when you leave

  • Make sure a staff member knows you are about to leave.
  • If you are having difficulty separating from your child you may need to pass the child physically over to a staff member.
  • We have a range of strategies to cope with a child who has difficulty separating – we may walk with you to the gate to farewell you there, or we may produce our ‘treasure box’! You can rely on us to do the best for your child.
  • Please do not sneak away as this creates more anxiety and less trust.
  • Please feel free to ring us when you get home to reassure yourself that your child is settled.
  • We will not let your child remain upset for too long before contacting you. Please ensure we have up to date contact numbers.
  • Please don’t judge other parents whose child may cry when Mum/Dad leaves.

Come back when you say you will

  • If you say you will be back soon, then come back soon. This reassures the child that they are being told the truth and builds trust.
  • Please don’t go and then come back for a quick check.
  • When your child first starts it is a good idea to return before the end mat time and to participate with your child in it so the child learns that routine with you. Some new children find it upsetting when the other children are released to their parents/caregivers and you haven’t turned up yet!
  • We have noticed that some children become upset when their parent/caregiver returns. This is a normal reaction – remember you are the safest person they can share their feelings with.
  • Please discuss with the supervisor any issues you have around separating from your child. We have dealt with this both personally as mums and professionally for years

Remember you are always welcome to stay at the centre. In fact we think it is a good idea to spend a substantial amount of the first session with your child so that you can get to know the routines, staff and children too!