Getting ready for big school

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JOCELYN LAUREL

One of the biggest transitions every child will go through is moving from preschool to big school. Ideally, this should not cause stress on the child or on the family—transitions should be smooth and effortless.

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However, this is always the case for many young children nowadays. Some children, at a very young age, are confronted with the demands entailed in entering big schools. Not only does this cause anxiety for children, but for parents and teachers as well.

“How will my child fair in the entrance tests?” “What would happen if he or she does not make it to the big school?” These are two of the many questions often raised by parents whenever a child goes through this very crucial transition.

As a parent, you might ask if it is really necessary for children to be assessed or tested prior to entering big school. Indeed, as more children enter school, educational disparities increase, making it necessary for schools to determine a child’s readiness based on his or her individual, social and behavioral competencies.

Furthermore, because schools have certain standards, they must determine the following: can the child cope? Will the child fit into the school’s philosophy? Schools need to be assured that children can easily adjust to the learning environment so that the school, in turn, can focus on the individual benefits of education of its students.

Preparing your child for the big school entrance test comes in two different phases: before and after the test (the actual admittance to big school). Below is a guide that may help get you and your child ready for his or her big testing day:

Before the test:
• Visit the testing site with your child.

• If possible, introduce your child to the person who will conduct the test.

• Do not build on your child’s anxiety.

• Do not focus on failure.

• Make sure your child has enough sleep the night before the test.

• Make sure your child has eaten well and is generally feeling well on the testing date.

• Do not pressure your child.

• Have other options—do not just have one school in mind.

After the test:
• Do not ask the child what happened, what was asked, what they made him/her do.

• If possible, ask the tester how the test went, but it will be seldom for them to give you a straight and forward answer.

• Observe your child and find some indicators (ex. anxiety, confidence, excitement, etc.).

• Assure the child that he/she did well.

But, how will you know if your child is ready for the big school? I always remind parents that they know their child better than anyone else. If your child is attending preschool, and he or she is enjoying it, this is a good sign.

Your child should enter kindergarten with joy, confidence and a positive attitude toward school

While many skills are learned and developed in the preschool, it would also be beneficial for your child if you provided him or her with these similar experiences at home, way before he or she is scheduled to take the entrance test into kindergarten:

• Listening to others and taking appropriate turns for expressing ideas and questions;

• Handling materials respectfully and putting them away;

• Sustaining engagement with an activity or process;

• Identifying and pursuing his own interests, choosing materials and having some ideas about how to engage with them productively;

• Being safe in relation to the group (staying within school bounds) and attending to personal needs (washing hands); and

• Asking for help when he needs it.

Although your child may not fully master all his or her skills in preschool or even by the end of kindergarten, the goal should be that your child enters kindergarten with joy, confidence and a positive attitude towards school.

Remember that your child is a unique individual who deserves the very best school experience that will meet his or her needs. And with a little bit of time, effort and thoughtful planning, you can have a significant impact on that success.

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