Transitions happen in the life of a child in different stages and at different ages. Of all the transitions, the transition to school is carries by far the most distinct importance, as it has to do with the child’s school readiness. There are 7 highly important characteristics for school readiness in a child which helps in effective learning.
To have a better understanding about the seven characteristics, it is important to first have an understanding about the different kinds of transitions and school readiness.
In this article:
- The 5 kinds of transitions during early childhood.
- What is School Readiness?
- The 6 important characteristics for school readiness for effective learning.
The 5 Kinds of Transitions during Early Childhood
From the perspective of early childhood education, there are 5 kinds of transitions a child will experience:
- Moving from home to school
- Transiting from one class to another within the school
- Moving from one activity to another
- Transiting from school to home, and
- Moving from preschool school setting (starting with Kindergarten)
The 4 Challenging Behaviours during Transition
When children enter school, they bring with them a set of unique needs, interests and values that they gathered from their experiences at home since birth.
This is why the school should ensure that adequate support and encouragement is given to the child to fulfill their needs and interests respectively, so that they can learn, grow and develop.
When children enter school, some of them are younger than their peers (by about 6 months) and are likely to not have developed certain skills for formal learning yet.
In the Indian context, children are admitted into school at a certain age where most if not all are cognitively, physically and socially competent to acquire skills which are needed for their later development.
However, few of them are likely to have challenging behaviors due to their transition experience, which in turn could affect their school readiness.
Some of the challenging behaviors during transition could be:
- Being bored or disinterested
- Not knowing about the group norms
- Unable to follow the language
- Difficulty in communicating clearly
This is why it becomes important for the school and the teachers to have a detailed plan and implement appropriate activities to help children overcome the challenges and promote a smooth transition. Once children experience a smooth transition, they automatically become school ready.
What is School Readiness?
School Readiness comprises a whole array of physical, social, emotional and cognitive skills. It is a measure of how prepared a child is to be effective at learning and succeed in school.
It takes the effort of the school and the parents for the child to succeed in school. The school should ensure that they accommodate the children such that they make them feel comfortable and happy, while the parents should ensure that they provide all the physical, social and emotional needs of the children.
School Readiness is a state in which children are not in a state of emotional stress, are in a position of ease and comfort, and are able to easily acquire the learning and the skills required for later development in their life.
Simply put, school readiness is a condition which indicates that children are ready to learn.
How to Provide Support for Children to be School Ready?
Support for readiness at school can be provided by giving children:
- Ample opportunities for development
- Ensuring they participate in activities to tune and enhance their skills for optimal development, and
- Tweaking programs, activities and schedules wherever necessary so as to accommodate all the children.
It is important to note that school readiness also focuses on self-care skills like toileting (yes, indeed), opening lunch boxes, eating properly, social skills, emotional regulation, attention and concentration.
The 6 Important Attributes Required for Successful Transition in Children
Self-regulation is an ability to control one’s behavior, emotions and thoughts for a specific time to focus and accomplish a long-term goal.
As children grow and develop, it is important that they need to be able to demonstrate self-regulation, early in life, which will empower them to not only start and complete the task they began.
Completing a task is a key attribute individuals should possess, as most adults’ lives are a collection of things (or projects) they consciously started but never consciously finished. That’s why this is considered one of the most important characteristics for school readiness in a child.
In schools, teachers can develop activities and games that can promote self-regulation in children. Few popular games like Simon says, freeze tag, musical chair and hide-and-seek can be played during and in-between class, among others.
2. Sensory Processing
Sensory Processing is accurate processing of sensory stimulation in the environment. It is a way the brain receives signals to organize and respond to the stimulation received. It is also the stimulation of one’s own body, which influences the learning ability and attention span of children.
The sensory processes affect the way a child is able to sit in the classroom, hold the pencil/pen and listen attentively in the classroom.
Children who have difficulty in processing the information received have what is called Sensory Processing Disorder, as they keep reacting to the stimulation coming from their environment – instead of responding. Responding helps to focus and reacting forces one to get distracted.
3. Receptive Language
Receptive Language is the ability of the child understand and interpret the spoken language, especially in a classroom, as they are required to listen to the teacher and the instructions they provide.
To be able to understand instructions clearly without any distortions or confusion, and follow them in the sequence they were given, is an ability one can get good at only with practice. Once children develop this crucial skill early in their life, it can do a world of good during their adult years – across their life.
4. Expressive Language
To be able to communicate one’s thoughts, ideas, feelings and emotions is an innate ability that only have. However, to be able to communicate effectively is something that one can master only through practice. Most of the great leaders are also exceptional communicators.
Expressive Language is the ability to convey a message clearly by producing sounds, speech or using a language which can be easily comprehended by another person.
Expressive language is an important ability to acquire, as it helps the child to effectively communicate to friends, family, teachers and others in school. That’s one of the reasons why this is considered another one of the most important characteristics for school readiness in a child.
When practiced well, and when done over time, they could well grow and develop into a leader in the future in their chosen path.
Both articulation and expressive language go hand-in-hand and has to be demonstrated together to communicate effectively. Articulation is the ability to form clear and distinct sounds in during speech, so that as to clearly pronounce sounds. These sounds are used to form words, which is the basis of language development.
Clear articulation is a skill that requires a lot of practice. Though it can be developed even during early adult life, it could be relatively challenging then. That’s why it is best if articulation is practiced and developed right from the school days, as it is easy to pick it up during childhood.
6. Executive Functioning
Be it children or adults, as an individual develops, their skills also advances. Executive Functioning is thinking and reasoning skills of a higher order.
As the name suggests, executive functioning is a skill that enables an individual to plan, execute (carry out) and complete a task. It helps in understanding different perspectives, different contexts and regulate emotions.
Most of all, it empowers an individual to start an activity, stay focused and be at it until completion.
There are three different areas or domains of Executive Functioning:
a) Working Memory
Working Memory is the ability of one’s memory to:
- Comprehend an information
- Retain the information (in memory)
- Retrieve the information at a later point in time (in life too), and
- Make use it for a specific purpose.
For example, a child might be able to use the information contained in, say, Pythagoras Theory given by the math teacher in school and use it later in life as an engineer or a scientist.
b) Cognitive Flexibility
Cognitive Flexibility, also called Flexible Thinking, is a skill which allows a child or an individual to think of a particular thing, situation or challenge in multiple ways.
For example, a child might use cognitive flexibility skills to find a solution for what other perceive as a problem but looking at it as an interesting challenge (flexible thinking), almost as if it were a puzzle one can’t wait to solve.
Flexible Thinking also helps to find correlations or relationship between two different aspects or concepts.
c) Inhibitory Control
Inhibitory Control is a skill which, at its foundation, requires self-control. It is the ability to be aware of distractions, yet ignore it; and be conscious of temptations, yet resist it.
Inhibitory Control is more of a skill of the mind, as it requires discipline, and can be developed with practice over time. It helps children to regulate their feelings and emotions and keep them from impulsive behaviors.
In other words, Inhibitory Control helps children to respond thoughtfully to situations and temptations, rather than react impulsively.
To develop the important characteristics for school readiness in a child, it is important that the environment setting both at home and in school cater to the developmental needs of each child. This becomes possible only if parents, caregivers and teachers look at each child as a separate individual.
For schools to be ready to prepare children for school readiness and learning, they must be well equipped in terms of quality, be it in aspects as regards teachers, infrastructure, study materials or learning facilities.
Disclaimer: The content in this page and across this website are for informational and educational purposes only. In case of any concerns about your child’s growth and development, please contact your professional child healthcare provider.