If your child is in kindergarten this year, chances are you are thinking about school in 2016… and asking yourself, ‘Is my child ready?’
There are a lot of resources and lists concerning ‘readiness for school’. Readiness will influence a child’s ability to thrive, to learn and to enjoy their first year of school.
Many resources focus on emotional and cognitive readiness… but what about physical readiness?
Here are some simple questions to ask yourself to help get your child physically ready:
- At 5 years old, can your child do the following?
- Get up off the floor without using hands
- Walk backward
- Walk heel-to-toe without losing balance
- Balance on alternate feet
- Catch a ball using their hands
- Run smoothly and with long steps
- Hop well on either foot
- Jump down from the second bottom step and keep balance
- Safely go up and down a playground climbing frame/ladder.
- Do you still use a stroller/pram when going out?
As learning has become more interactive and dynamic, it is important your child has the stamina to get involved with their learning, and get involved in social and physical play.
- Does your child dress themselves, go to the toilet independently (including washing their hands) independently?
These activities require skills that your child has been building upon from birth.
Dressing is actually quite complex! (Just ask a 2 year old.) It requires motor planning and problem solving to know how to do it; coordination and balance to get the clothes on; and fine motor dexterity, strength and co-ordination to do zips, buttons and ties.
At school they will take jackets on and off, and will need to go to the toilet independently.
- Does your child have difficulty sitting still at a table or on the floor? Are you concerned about their posture?
This is different from normal ‘business’ of 5 year olds!
On the floor, children should be able to sit cross-legged with their backs ‘tall’ and their hands in their lap. If sitting on the floor quickly turns into slouching, leaning, lying or ‘W’ sitting (feet turned outwards), and they have a similar issue with sitting in a chair at the table, their core strength and sitting stamina may be an issue. It is very difficult to focus on literacy (for example) if you’re busy trying to stay upright.
- Does your child hold a pencil, scissors well? Do they use a sticky tape dispenser, glue stick or pencil sharpener effectively?
At this age, children are developing a mature grip and life long habits. Difficulties in this area can mean issues with dexterity, co-ordination, strength and/or motor planning.
So, what can you do?
- Opportunity and practice is a good place to start if your child has difficulty with any of these gross motor activities.
- Start with easy and achievable goals. From there you can slowly increase the difficulty, the duration and/or number of repetitions.
- Encourage your child to build walking stamina by leaving the stroller at home, and walk more. There’s a lot more exploring and learning that can be done when you’re on your feet!
- If your child is struggling with dressing, try talking through the task. Eg. “Oops, your T-shirt is on backwards! How did I know? How can we fix this?”
- Practise doing buttons, zips, press studs… and turning taps.
Sometimes, children need a little more than practice and opportunity. If your child is struggling in more than one area, they may benefit from an assessment and tailored program from one of our physiotherapists.
In some instances, difficulties in these areas can be a symptom of something else. If you are unsure, or concerned with your child’s ability, contact us for an assessment.