POLOKWANE – Dr Naledzani Rasila, of the Department of Education, told Review this is a big decision for a parent. “Parents must remember the child’s teacher should have the best idea of whether the child can meet social and academic expectations. Listen to the advice given by them as they have been trained in early childhood development,” he said.
He said in some cases schools have special classes which help a child make the transition from one grade to the other.
“The first five years of life are critical to a child’s lifelong development. Young children’s earliest experiences influence brain development, establishing the neural connections that provide the foundation for language, reasoning, problem solving, social skills, behaviour and emotional health,” Rasila explained.
He added parents should look out certain things when thinking of moving their children to a higher grade or having them repeat the grade.
• Bigger motor skills like running, skipping and standing on one leg should be something a child can do easily. Fine motor skills include comfortably using a pair of scissors, successfully doing zips and buttons and being able to use cutlery.
• Perceptual development in both visual and auditory, seeing if the child understands when being talked to and can talk back.
• Taking care of themselves when it comes to going to the toilet.
• A child who is emotionally well-adjusted has a significantly greater chance of early school success.
• Gets along with peers and can interact within a group or shows an interest in other children, willing to help a friend.
• Can sit still long enough to listen to a story.
• Can make independent decisions and follow through.
• Can follow simple directions or instructions.
• Shows an interest in learning.
• Reasonable control over emotions.
• Handles separation well.
Rasila suggested parents can follow a few steps to make sure their child is school ready:
• Read to your child.
• Teach your child songs, nursery rhymes and poems.
• Take your child on excursions to a museum, for example.
• Make regular opportunities for play-dates.
• Play games so your child starts recognising colours, numbers, letters.