People often say to me they want to work on their child’s speech and language to be ‘ready for school’. As a Mum, I understand the sentiment, but there are a couple of things I like to say about that. Firstly, school is a place for continued learning and your child doesn’t have to have everything together before they get there. Some families choose to delay their child’s school start for a term or two as there might be good reasons such as they are developmentally taking a lot out of the early childhood experience.
However, usually, the best place to learn to get on at school is at school. All children start with a variety of skills, strengths and things they’ll need to learn. There isn’t a magic entry level checklist that children have to have in order to be accepted into school. Ideally there are some skills they will have, like recognizing their name, being able to sit and listen to a story, follow a routine. The Parenting Place tip sheet has some general ideas for helping your child start school. I like that their list doesn’t include how far a child can count and how many colours they know.
Secondly, clear speech and age appropriate language skills are useful for communication all of the time…communication is an important life skill – not just for school. Where children have difficulties with communication and learning, the best time to help them is now. Usually it is not time alone that helps a child ‘catch up’, but sustained, targeted and focused help. What could you be helping your child with now? Speech-Language Therapy assessment might be a great start!