Is My Child Ready For Prep? – Separation Anxiety
It is heartbreaking when you have to leave your child in tears and simply walk away. Not all children grow out of separation anxiety before starting Prep. There are also a range of degrees of separation anxiety. Some children will settle quickly after you drop them off at school, others will need more time.
It can be tough seeing parents sending happy, excited children to school day after day, while yours clings to you like glue! You’re not alone! It always gets better over time and there are some excellent educational resources available to Queensland families. The question is, how do you know if your child is ready for prep, despite having separation anxiety? Here are some questions to consider:
1. Is your child academically ready?
While there is no definitive degree of literacy and numeracy skills needed to start school, your child will be ready to start school if they are showing signs of being ready to move forward with their learning. Writing their name, recognising some or all the alphabet and counting from 1-10 are just some indicators that they are ready to go on to a more formal stage of learning.
2. Is your child socially ready?
Separation anxiety can make some children seem shy, or they may be reluctant to make new friends. Not every child is going to be confident in meeting new people and that’s okay. Some adults find it tough too! If your child is socially ready for school they may start showing signs of taking turns, playing alongside or with others and asking questions as well as engaging with their kindergarten teachers.
3. Is your child emotionally ready?
If you expect your child to cry on the first day or even for the first week, that doesn’t signify that they aren’t emotionally ready to start Prep. Children who aren’t emotionally ready to start Prep would be showing signs of this in kindergarten. If you are coming to the end of the kindergarten year and they haven’t settled or aren’t coping then it’s time to discuss your options with your kindergarten teacher. However, if they seem mostly comfortable in their pre-school environment, they will eventually settle into their new school, too. An ‘off’ day here or there is also completely normal!
How will the school help my child?
Prep teachers are trained in dealing with children who have separation anxiety. They will have plenty of tricks up their sleeve to keep your child engaged and happy, as well as give them comfort when they’re feeling blue. The Australian National Curriculum covers social and emotional learning through the Foundation years and beyond and will be taught in all schools. You can see exactly what’s children will learn in Prep here.
Educational resources for parents
Make sure your child is registered at a Queensland kindergarten that has a school readiness program, but DO check to see exactly what their ‘program’ entails. Is it more academic readiness or social/emotional readiness? Also, keep your lines of communication with your kindergarten open. Talk with them often about how your child is progressing and if their anxiety is lessening throughout the year.
To learn more about how a Queensland kindergarten program can help your child’s separation anxiety, and get hold of some practical educational resources, visit Queensland’s Early Childhood Education page.