Am I ready for “Big School”?

By Samantha Armstrong | Mrs Owls

Of all the jobs I’ve ever had, being an educator would have to be the most challenging of them all. The world has changed and so has society. The expectations placed on teachers have become overwhelming. Not only are we expected to teach the curriculum, but also to teach everything else, like manners, kindness, social skills and so much more.

When I decided to become a teacher, I had this image in my mind of Miss Honey in ‘Matilda’. Oh, how lovely all the children were, and how kind she was ALL OF THE TIME! And although I have many ‘Miss Honey’ moments, that is just fantasy, the reality of it all is a little different.

My first year of teaching was by far the hardest, as I am sure most of you will agree. Mine was made a tad more challenging by the introduction of a new curriculum and a small school that had only one class in each grade! I was lost. I had no planning, no worksheets, nothing! I was earning a pittance of a salary so buying the amazing products I saw online was out of the question. My resource creation was born from necessity, but I was in love. Creating resources made me happy, and allowed me the opportunity to create resources exactly as I wanted them.

Through all my searching, as I had come across some fabulous websites, I decided to upload my resources as well. My Teacha! store, Mrs Owls Products, has been going for many years now and includes many resources for both parents and teachers.

My newest creation is a tool that can be used to test school readiness for our Grade R learners proceeding to Grade one. This will help to assess whether your child is ready for ‘big school’.
School readiness is such a loaded concept. Is my child ready for ‘big’ school? This question can be broken down into five subcategories.

  • Emotional maturity
  • Gross motor skills
  • Fine Motor skills
  • Perceptional skills- both visual and auditory
  • Independence and taking care of themselves

These should be mastered so that your child has a sturdy foundation to continue their schooling journey. The jump from Grade R to Grade 1 is huge. Your child will go from learning through play to academic learning. In the Grade R classroom, children have the freedom to move around and learn through exploring. They have exposure to many art forms and use fun games to build their skills. They are allowed to chatter most of the time and there are very few formal aspects.

The Grade 1 classroom is very different. This is the start of your child’s formal schooling career. This is the place where they will learn to read and write coherently. It is the first layer of their school foundation, and it needs to be strong and sturdy.

I like to relate building a house to building a child, so, imagine building a house and you miss a few bricks, or you lay the cement a little too thinly. It may be ok for a while, but in time your house will become unstable, and it may even topple over.

The same can be applied to your child. They need all the building blocks to help them build a secure foundation. Teachers are the architects of their building and foundation phase teachers as the term suggests are architects of the foundation. As with any build, problems can occur, bricks could be damaged, you could be hit with rain, and the architect or builder may be sick. These problems all result in time delays in your build. You may even run out of funds; this will stop the project indefinitely.

Your child may also experience problems in their ‘build’. Teachers are there to guide and help them to try and work through those challenges. Parents and caregivers are equally important and need to help hold it all together. The cement if you will.

There are times, when, even though everyone has given it their best, your child may still, just not be ready for the next grade. There is no shame in a child repeating the grade and rebuilding an unsteady foundation. It is a shame to rather push a child into a situation that they are not ready for or emotionally damage your child and send them onto a difficult schooling career, built on an unsteady foundation. It is of utmost importance that parents listen to and take the advice of teachers, as you would listen to and take the advice of an expert when building a house.

Are you looking for resources to help you, assess your child’s school readiness? The “Am I ready for big school” checklist and activity booklet are available free of charge from my Teacha! Store.

You can also check out a collection of my favourite resources including:

Strawberry fields classroom decor
My phonics book
Woodland animals classroom theme

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