Every year, countless parents debate whether their child is ready for the world of primary school. Dr Lyn Cronin, an expert in children’s literacy and school readiness, says there are signs that parents can look out for.

How do you know if your child is ready for school?

It is a question that has been on every parent’s mind at some point, and a question that Dr Lyn Cronin has heard countless times during her career as a primary teacher and now researcher.

However, the answer is not so simple. With a child in New South Wales able to start kindergarten anywhere from the ages of four and a half to six, there is a huge spectrum when it comes to what defines school readiness.

“There are no rules around it, it’s a very individual question,” says Dr Cronin, a lecturer in the School of Education at the University of Wollongong. “Parents often think it’s age related, but that’s not necessarily the case.”

Since Dr Cronin began teaching more than 20 years ago, our approach to school readiness has undergone a transformation. Traditionally discussions about school readiness focused on particular qualities of the child, often related to age. There is now much more understanding of just how big a leap it is for children to move from pre-school to primary school, and the role teachers, schools, and parents can play in making that transition as seamless as possible.

It is now much more about a child’s emotional and social development, than it is about their academic ability and their age. When children feel “suitable, relaxed, well-adjusted in kindergarten they are much more likely than children who do not to experience a successful start and continue that success beyond kindergarten”.

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