With the introduction of the new Australian curriculum parents are looking for ways to help their child be prepared for the academic expectations of school. Some parents are choosing to send their little ones to school readiness classes.
The aim of school readiness programs is to teach children the fundamental foundation skills for learning. In most cases the classes comprise of a one hour session once a week during school terms and for continuity of learning attendance for the whole year is recommended. The reason the sessions are only an hour is because they are quite intensive.
In each session children are introduced to a range of concepts and skills that will prepare them for the demands of their first class at ‘big school.’ Children can start the programs two years before school and classes are levelled to the age and ability of the individual.
In Literacy children are introduced to letter names and sounds and their association with words. This will include learning individual sounds, using these sounds to make words (blending), generating the sounds for words (segmenting) and exploring words that start with the sounds they know. The programs tend to avoid learning by memorising the alphabet, for example’ a is for apple, b is for banana etc...’ which is known as rote learning, but rather strive to develop a complete understanding of the letters and their sounds. They are also taught how to form letters correctly.
Numeracy skills are introduced by first teaching the numbers 1 – 10. They learn to recognise numbers out of sequence, connect the numbers to groups of objects, and count forward and backwards. As they progress, bigger numbers are introduced. Activities are designed to be fun and interactive and a range of strategies are used to cater for different learning styles.
In addition to the academic skills children are taught the correct pencil grip & how to sit properly for writing. They take part in a variety of craft activities which help them to develop their fine motor skills through colouring, painting, printing, cutting and sticking. They experiment with a range of materials and textures which link to the Literacy focus of the day, so while having fun making something they are also reinforcing their learning.
In addition, generally parents are given materials to use at home if they wish it. This is entirely optional, but is encouraged as a way of consolidating skills learned in the class. The educators of the programs are either Early Years or Primary trained teachers so they can also be a useful source of information and guidance. Parents looking for this kind of support & a thorough learning program for their little ones might seriously consider school readiness as an option.
Written by Tracy Willcocks, Begin Bright