When parents come to Dr. Jacob Boney, owner and clinical director of Scottsdale Pediatric Behavioral Services, concerned about whether their child is behaviorally ready for school or if they have the necessary skills, his answer is always that they are not going to just get ready by accident. School readiness is not something that happens by chance.
A study was done in Louisville, Kentucky that showed that 73.8% of children who attended at least one day of a kindergarten camp or kindergarten readiness course were ready to start school compared to a district average of 56.1% of children who obviously did not attend kindergarten readiness training. This is big news and definitely important. In fact, assistance with school readiness is in such high demand that Scottsdale PBS has created its own. The Scottsdale Children’s Institute is located in the same building, and part of its mission is to practice, disseminate and research the science of teaching and learning. A major part of the program is going to be an intensive school readiness program that is going to really push these kindergarten readiness skills.
School readiness skills can range from adaptive skills, academic skills, social skills, emotional and behavioral regulation skills. Most schools don’t teach kids how to sit when it’s circle time or how to stand in line. They have never been taught how to raise their hand or wait their turn. These are the types of skills that the Scottsdale Children’s Institute is going to push. Their goal is to build all of the skills necessary for a student to adaptively function as a whole student in the school environment.
Parents Should Look for These Signs of Readiness
- Is your child making progress that is similar to their peers in preschool?
- Skills that children will need in kindergarten include sitting in their seats, keeping their hands to themselves, standing in line, raising their hands, waiting their turn and the ability to stay on task in the school environment. If a child has some but not most of the skills necessary to succeed in the classroom, they are likely to fall behind pretty quickly.
- A clear indication that they are not ready to move up to kindergarten would be that they are barely staying afloat in their current environment. A good way to confirm this would be to visit a normal kindergarten classroom and observe what the average student is doing in that classroom.
- A common signal that a child is not ready is when they are frequently sent home or secluded from their peers because of behavioral issues. Many children that we work with have been booted out of multiple school programs. Schools often have few tools or resources to deal with noncompliant students, so, consequently, they have very little tolerance for behavioral issues.
- Children need to be able to sit independently for up to 30 minutes without assistance or help.
- Inability to complete non-preferred tasks for at least 20 minutes at a time.
- A child needs to be able to follow rules and pick up things by observing other students. Sometimes children cannot hear directions or know exactly what’s going on, but they should be able to observe their peers and quickly emulate and follow that behavior.
- The average kindergarten student does not have major problem behaviors, such as being aggressive, throwing tantrums or engaging in self-injurious types of behaviors.
The presence or lack of anything on this list does not mean something is wrong with your child. Not all children progress at the same speed. Some merely need a different approach or setting. If you are in doubt as to whether your child is ready, you can ask their preschool teacher for an opinion, as well as suggestions about what the child needs to work on.
Remember, school readiness is not going to happen by accident. If your child does not seem ready, the answer may be to look for school readiness programs in your area. If you’re in the Scottsdale, Arizona area, we invite you to visit the Scottsdale Children’s Institute or check our website for more information. www.ScottsdaleCI.com.
Utilizing evidence based practices and the scientific principles of Applied Behavior Analysis, the Scottsdale Pediatric Behavioral Services team provides assessment, treatment and consultation for a wide range of behavioral issues. We work with a variety of children, families, schools, hospitals, mental health agencies and local community organizations to provide these services. If you have any questions about how to help your child with school readiness or would like more information about any of the services offered by our team, please feel free to contact us by phone at 480.410.4040, email us at [email protected], or click here for our convenient online form.