This is a question on most parents’ minds of 3 or 4 year olds
This is a question on most parents’ minds of 3 or 4 year olds. Compulsory school start ages vary widely across the globe from four in France and Spain to seven in Sweden. You might wonder then, is there a point at which a child’s brain is ready to begin the 3 R’s, and are we just wasting our time by sending them to school too early.
There are many schools of thought on this subject however most agree on one thing, and that is that there is no general rule.
All children are different and progress at different rates. While research may show that boys are maturing a little more slowly early years we should not pigeon hole boys and girls, but should look at each child individually. You will know your child best and can tell whether he or she seems ready to make that big step.
If you are facing that pivotal decision in the coming months, there are some indicators of “readiness” that you can assess your child on.
- How is your child’s ability to cope when things go wrong?
- Can they adapt to new or unexpected events, is their curiosity greater than their fear of new things?
- Can they speak clearly?
- How do they engage with adults and other children?
- Do they understand how to play, share and take turns with other children?
- Do they show some level of responsibility ie. Look after their coat, bag?
- Can they go to the loo by themselves?
- Are they interested in books (looking at the picture in books and telling a story from the picture)
- Can they follow and understand instructions given to them?
- Can they hold a pencil?
- Can they dress themselves?
- Do they draw simple shapes?
It is important to know that there isn’t one single factor decides whether your child is ready to start school. It is a combination of a number of things which are all important. If you are in doubt remember that you are not in any rush to get them to start. Holding a child back and starting them a year later does not have any reflection on either you or the child and in fact can be seen as a bonus year to give them extra time. If you are finding it difficult to make a decision on your own, consult with the child’s Montessori or playschool teacher or a family member or friend who works in the education system with children.