Current education policy guidelines state that children are required to enter into grade 1 during the year in which they turn 7. As children are compelled by law to enter school, formal school readiness assessments are not as regularly conducted as they were in previous years. Thousands of children commence to school, and experience difficulties due to developmental difficulties that were not identified early on.
Broadly defined, a school readiness assessment explores whether a child is ready to benefit from formal education. The following are aspects of development that are considered to be critical indicators of the children’s degree of school readiness:
- Cognitive skills (which includes intellectual, perceptual, language and numerical development, reasoning ability, memory, and general knowledge). Previous literacy experiences and phonological processing play a very important role.
- Physical skills like perceptual and motor skills are crucial as it forms the foundation for reading, writing and numeracy.
- Adequate emotional development (emotions and the other domains can never be separated) forms the inner discipline for the child to learn. The will to learn stems from the knowledge that one is able to perform the task at hand. Emotional stability that furthers the child’s independence is also part of school readiness, resilience and self-confidence are all vital for successful school performance.
- Social skills that include situational readiness are of importance for the formal school situation.
- Self-regulation skills that will influence learning behaviour such as persistence and the ability to pay attention contribute very much to the child’s all-over school readiness and often make the difference between achieving success or failing. Basic self-regulating skills like paying attention, following instructions and inhibiting inappropriate actions are all skills that form part of school readiness.