School Readiness Checklist: Find Out if Your Child is Ready for School

Is your child ready for school? It’s that time of the year when parents begin panicking. Your tiny bundle of joy is about to swap their swaddles and wraps for school bags and lunch boxes. Where did the time go? School interviews are booked, but how do you know if they’re ready?

School readiness often focuses on that final year that leads up to the big event. While the transition from an early learning environment or from home to school is important, your child’s preparation began years ago. And, it has little to do with reading, writing or counting.

That first breath. The moment your child opens their eyes and hears your voice, they’re learning. Your child’s abilities and learned behaviours, both emotional and social, will build the foundation for their success at school.

At Petit Early Learning Journey, we facilitate feedback and discussion with parents about your child’s development throughout their early years.

We’ve prepared a school readiness checklist aligned with the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) to help you determine if your child is ready for school. This article and our checklist covers:

  • When should you start your child’s school readiness program?
  • What skills and behaviours should your child work towards developing?
  • What can you do to support your child’s transition to school?

Mum and confident early learner ticking off the school readiness checklist

When should your child’s school readiness program begin?

Your child’s school readiness program begins before Preschool and Kindergarten. At Petit ELJ, we believe that learning is an active process. While these programs prepare older children for the transition to “big” school, the learning journey begins with your baby’s first year.

Do you remember when you started school? Not so long ago, children were supervised at home or in a childcare setting with an emphasis on playing. While the transition to school still begins between the ages of 4 and 7, young children are now acknowledged as capable learners.

Play-based learning has many benefits. And it’s not just for children transitioning to school, but for children of all ages.

With the introduction of the EYLF, traditional beliefs are changing. This year, the Queensland government’s Kindergarten program aligned its learning framework to fit within the EYLF.

School readiness doesn’t depend on your child being able to read, write and count by a certain age. Instead, learning begins at birth and continues into the early years of school. Your child’s readiness to start depends on their development and age-appropriate teaching practices.

Educators at Petit ELJ use intentional teaching methods. These methods include encouraging, collaboration, imagining, challenging and explaining, as well as providing choices for learning opportunities. Our practices build on your child’s interests, ideas, strengths and needs.

Early learners using play-based learning to recognise shapes as part of our school readiness program

School readiness skills and abilities checklist

The three R’s – reading, writing and arithmetic – used to be the indicators of school readiness skills. Early learning research has uncovered other skills critical for your child’s success. The areas outlined below and their associated skills align with the EYLF.

This is a comprehensive list of behaviours and developmental skills that Preschool and Kindergarten children pursue. Your child doesn’t need to excel in these areas but they should be working towards developing the skills and abilities on our school readiness checklist.

1. Identity

  • Starts conversations with invited guests.
  • Investigates new learning experiences on their own.
  • Manages routines, like going to the toilet.
  • Looks after their belongings, like putting their bag away.
  • Chooses what activities to learn and play.
  • Keeps trying to work things out, even when the activity is challenging.
  • Sets goals, recognises their effort and celebrates their successes.
  • Shares and discusses their culture and experiences with others.

2. Connectedness

  • Encourages others to join them in play-based learning.
  • Takes turns and share with others.
  • Displays compassion for others.
  • Shows others how to be responsible and fair.
  • Engages positively with people who appear different to them.
  • Questions and challenges bias, like all nurses, are women.
  • Shows an active interest in other cultures.
  • Shares particulars of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing and being.
  • Displays an interest in their environment by making suggestions for improvement, protection and contributing to its sustainability.
  • Recognises the impact of their actions on the natural environment.

3. Physical, social and mental wellbeing

  • Expresses feelings and why they feel a certain way.
  • Employs methods to remain calm in challenging situations, like when another child takes the toy they wanted.
  • Asks questions about changing circumstances, like a change in routine.
  • Discusses why they choose healthy options.
  • Manages routines, like brushing their teeth.
  • Explains a safety rule to others, like what to do if there’s a fire alarm.
  • Recognises risks, like running on a wet floor.
  • Keeps going when physical activities get tough.
  • Demonstrates the ability to use new tools effectively.
  • Challenges their spatial awareness.
  • Joins in new sensory experiences, like tasting new food.

4. Active learning

  • Considers their learning and how they can add to it.
  • Manages new projects on their own.
  • Problem solves, like finishing a puzzle.
  • Comes to conclusions on how ideas and outcomes connect.
  • Uses their imagination to create complex storytelling.
  • Seeks out new information.
  • Discovers new ways of using materials.
  • Varies their creativity, like drawing a red tree.
  • Experiments by considering what could happen, tests their ideas and explores findings.
  • Shares their learning ideas and discoveries with others.
  • Creates replicas of technology for play and learning, like turning a cardboard box into a washing machine.
  • Uses technology for learning.

5. Communicates effectively

  • Makes meaning with words and gestures.
  • Articulates age-appropriate sounds.
  • Speaks with structured sentences.
  • Joins in conversations, answers and asks questions.
  • Converses with others to create games.
  • Demonstrates their understanding of a text.
  • Reads, listens and identifies their experiences with a given text.
  • Identifies and sounds out the letters of their name.
  • Experiments with similar sounds (nonsense words) that rhyme.
  • Asks for help with reading.
  • Copies letters to write their name.
  • Explores measurements (size, time and quantity).
  • Recognises shapes in different contexts.
  • Problem-solves with mathematical solutions.
  • Identifies items and counts in order.

Preschoolers and Kindergarten children play games to develop school readiness skills.

Getting ready for school

Starting school is a significant milestone for children. Getting ready for school can be stressful. By collaborating, families, early learning Educators and school Educators can work together to make your child’s transition to school a positive experience.

Even if your child is not at daycare, you can still create new experiences and activities to help them prepare and work towards developing their school readiness skills.

Things you can do with your child:

  • Organise playdates to interact with friends.
  • Play simple board games with them.
  • Attend their concerts and plays and join in their roleplaying.
  • Read with them.
  • Have conversations.
  • Encourage them to dress and brush their teeth without your help.
  • Show them how to copy the letters in their name.
  • Set up different play-based learning activities and let them choose.
  • Give them the tools to learn how to draw.
  • Change their play environment, mix it up both inside and out.
  • Encourage them to push a kids trolley around the supermarket to help you shop.
  • Praise their effort.

It’s important to encourage your child to choose activities that interest them rather than forcing them to do something.

Allowing your child to work out what to do helps them develop problem-solving skills. It also encourages them to ask you questions which engages them in conversations. If they appear to be struggling with an activity, you can ask them questions to prompt a response.

By letting children lead their learning, we recognise them as capable learners who are resourceful at developing their own knowledge. It encourages a child’s confidence and sets the foundation for a journey of lifelong learning.

Children with Petit Early learning Journey Educator getting ready for school by choosing activities that interest them.

Awaken the love of learning for your child with Petit Early Learning Journey

At Petit ELJ, we follow a holistic approach to connect mind, body and spirit. Our supportive Educators guide children to discover their unique personalities. Your child’s awareness of their feelings, thoughts and attitudes, allows us to tailor their learning programs.

Share the gift of lifelong learning with your child. Give them the best start to their school years ahead with Petit ELJ.

Book a Tour today.