School readiness is an important factor to take into consideration when preparing children for school. It refers to the child’s smooth and successful transition going into school. School readiness does not only include the child’s academic skills, but also their motivation for learning, social and physical development, and language ability. With these skills, the child is likely to experience a smoother academic journey. It is important for the child to be equipped with the necessary skills so that they are able to engage and benefit from the curriculum. School readiness consists of several factors such as behaviour, independence, ability to know how-to-learn, and social skills which will be further discussed in this article.
Most children with autism tend to display behaviours such as flapping of hands, throwing tantrums and snatching. This can be especially disruptive in a classroom setting. Undesirable behaviours usually arise when children are unable to communicate their needs, have a low tolerance for waiting, sensory challenges, or an inability to cope with a change in routine. Thus, they may default to exhibiting behaviours they are familiar with in order to cope with the frustration. Learning may also be difficult if children are unable to manage their triggers. By building up their tolerance over time and teaching them expected behaviours in different settings, it should help to reduce their stress level and increase their level of cooperation. This creates a better learning experience for them in school.
Children gain confidence and develop a healthy self-esteem when they are able to do things on their own. By executing self-help skills, children develop awareness, problem-solving abilities and planning skills. Children who do not have independent skills may end up missing out on experiences in school as they are unable to catch up with the rest of the students. For example, children who are unable to eat on their own may end up missing the next activity as they cannot finish their food in time. In school, teachers are unable to attend to one child completely due to the student-teacher ratio. Therefore, by having self-help skills, it reduces a child’s need for support and allows for more learning opportunities to happen. Some examples of self-help skills are self-feeding, self-dressing, throwing trash into bins, and toileting.
Learning How-To-Learn Skills
Learning how-to-learn skills refer to children understanding the process of learning. These include but are not limited to waiting and sitting tolerance, ability to attend and follow instructions. Waiting tolerance refers to the child’s ability to wait for the teacher to set up materials or during transitions, whereas sitting tolerance refers to the child’s ability to stay seated at the table for a period of time. When children are able to attend to details and follow instructions, this helps them to understand what is going on and learn better. Visual schedules and practice at home may allow children to understand what is expected of them and ease them into transitions between activities.
Social skills are important for a child’s development, and helps them to interact and communicate with others. With social skills, children can develop friendships, share with their peers, and cooperate with others. This not only helps them to form positive relationships, it also improves their mental health as they are less stressed and upset. Caregivers may create opportunities such as playdates for children to spend time talking to and playing with each other. Sharing of toys and snacks could be encouraged during these playdates. Also, children who like to play pretend could be encouraged to put themselves in their character’s shoes and share how they think the character would feel in different situations, helping them to develop empathy.
To sum up, school readiness is essential for children to adjust to a school setting and reach their full learning potential. With a positive learning experience, children can then continue to excel on their academic journey.
Written by Shin.
Critical school readiness for children with autism. Autism Partnership. (2022, September 16). Retrieved from http://www.autismpartnership.com.hk/en/news/ap-connect/critical-school-readiness-for-children-with-autism/
Mead, S. (n.d.). The 5 domains of school readiness-and why they matter. Whitby School. Retrieved September 21, 2022, from https://www.whitbyschool.org/passionforlearning/the-5-domains-of-school-readiness-and-why-they-matter
Preparing children with ASD for school: The importance of school readiness skills for children with ASD: Social skills: 1:1 aba therapy program. Autism Partnership Singapore. (2022, January 14). Retrieved from https://www.autismpartnershipsg.com/articles/school-readiness-skills/
School readiness for children with autism. (2019, October 3). The Place for Children with Autism. Retrieved from https://theplaceforchildrenwithautism.com/autism-blog/school-readiness-for-children-with-autism