Challenging the notion of school readiness

Written by Rebecca, Educational Leader, teacher & mum of 2

“Children are natural learners.”

This is a really hard one for people to digest, especially parents – that children don’t need to be “taught”, but that they are, in fact, natural learners.

Unfortunately, we’ve been programmed to think children are always “in need” – in need of knowledge, in need of development. Children mostly need human connection! They need healthy relationships, and people that respect and value them.

What is most important is that we celebrate each child’s once in a lifetime opportunity to an authentic childhood, and protect it with all that we can.

My son started kindergarten this year. One thing Joseph is awesome at is using scissors. Sounds easy, but from a developmental perspective it is quite a difficult skill. Using scissors is also a really great skill to transition into school with. Did I ever teach Joseph to use scissors? No. But what I made sure of is, from a very young age (roughly 2 and a half), they were always available to him. When he first held them, of course it was not using the correct grip. At times I would sit beside him and use scissors to non-invasively model their use and gently pointing out my grip. But, in time, his own time, he mastered it.

‘In their own time, at their own pace’.  – Magda Gerber

Funnily enough, when Joseph was 1, I enrolled him into care and I was asked to write my response to what was most important to me as his mother. My answer was colours, shapes, numbers and letters. I was a teacher back then, by the way. Boy was I ignorant! I didn’t know any better, or maybe I allowed my perspective to be shaped by ill information. But four years down the track, now I know better… and my response would be nothing more than: connection, wellbeing, relationships, security and, most importantly, self discovery and acceptance.

Bottom line… I want him to be happy.

It wasn’t until I became aware of the great teachings of Magda Gerber that I was able to truly see, value and respect children, wholeheartedly, as capable and competent.

Learning at Educoe is supported by the environment. The environment is the “third teacher”. Your question “What did my child do today?” can be answered by exploring the environment. This is because, at Educoe, children learn by exploring and discovering in play.

The only thing your child should do is discover. Discover themselves, and discover others. Discover relationships! Discover themselves in play and in conflict. Discover the world they live in, by being part of it.

What’s most important is that we remember what type of setting we are… an early childhood service, that is providing education and care to children who are under 5 years of age.

It is easy to be consumed by societies demands, of all the things your child “should” be able to do. We often get asked questions around learning that are more appropriate to a school setting. Writing your name is an outcome found in the K-6 English syllabus. Counting to 20 is found in the Mathematic syllabus. The syllabus is not relevant to our context.

Being, belonging and becoming are. This is the basis of the Early Years Learning Framework.

For more, check out…

Key message from it…

Regardless of how advanced of a reader they were or how much money their parents made, kindergarteners who demonstrated social competence were more likely to graduate from high school, go to university, get a job, and stay out of jail, than those who showed a lower level of social competence.

So, while many parents and schools may be feeling the pressure to cut back on play and social interaction in order to get more “hard skill” instruction time in, it’s actually those “soft skills” that are most predictive of long-term success.

Don’t cave into societies expectations… rather challenge it for the fool it is!