The JNC acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Gadigal and Bidjigal People of the Eora Nation. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging and acknowledge that these lands always were and always will be Aboriginal lands. We celebrate First Nations Peoples’ connection to the land and recognise the importance of Indigenous voices and culture. We would like to advise that there may be images or videos on this website of people who have since passed.

School readiness – what it means and how to help

Image of school readiness: two young girls writing in an exercise book, heads close together looking happy

This week The Junction Neighbourhood Centre shares a guest blog with some advice from the experts on school readiness – and offers a playgroup targeted to increase your child’s school readiness.

School readiness is about the development of the whole child – their social and emotional skills, physical skills, communication skills and cognitive skills. Children cannot thrive at school if they haven’t developed the skills to manage things like getting along with other children, following instructions, and communicating their needs.

Research shows that children who start school when developmentally ready to learn tend to do better in school – and it sets them up for further success later in life.

Ready for school – how can you tell?

‘School readiness’ in children includes many different skills and behaviours, such as:

Social skill: Being able to get along with other children, demonstrate basic manners, assert themselves, and being able to play independently as well as with other children.

Emotional maturity: Being able to manage their emotions, cope with minimal adult contact in large groups, focus on tasks, follow directions and instructions from teachers, cope with the stress of the new school environment, and understand the rules.

Language skills: Being able to talk and listen to adults and other children, speak clearly, communicate needs, understand stories, and begin to identify some letters and sounds.

Cognitive Skills: Basic number sense, basic thinking skills, being able to wait and take turns.

Physical health and coordination: Basic health, fine motor skills (such as being able to grip a pencil and turn pages in a book) and physical coordination (being able to run, jump, climb, and play ball).

Independence: Basic skills to manage their needs without adult supervision, such as going to the toilet, dressing, unwrapping their lunch and managing their belongings.

If you are not sure whether your child is ready to start big school, talk to your child’s preschool/kindergarten teacher or early childhood educator. They will be able to help you with assessing your child’s development and readiness for school. (JNC: If your child isn’t having formal early childhood education, our Transition to School Playgroup – see below – may help to increase their school readiness.)

What can you do to increase your child’s school readiness?

While there has been a rise in the popularity of commercial ‘school readiness’ programs for pre-schoolers, these are not usually necessary. Little kids learn best through play!* Here are some easy things you can do to help your little one get ready for starting school:

  • Try to arrange play dates with other children starting at the same school. This gives your little one the chance to develop their social skills – and will give them the confidence that they will have a friend to talk to when they start school.


  • Let your child practise drawing with a range of different materials, such as pencils, crayons and textas, to help develop their fine motor skills – and remember to praise their efforts!


  • Encourage your little one to dress and undress themselves, and use the toilet independently.


  • Encourage your little one to have conversations with you – ask them questions, listen to their answers, and encourage them to talk about what they think and feel so they can express themselves with new friends and teachers.


  • Read with your child as often as possible. If your little one has some reading skills already, that’s great! But if not, don’t worry – they will be taught how to read at school. Just enjoying books with you develops early literacy skills and helps encourage a love of reading. When reading with your little one, talk to them about the story, point out new words, and ask questions. This will help with their comprehension, vocabulary and language skills.


  • Help your child develop a basic awareness of numbers by helping out around the house – they could set the table and count the plates, match socks from the washing line, or measure the ingredients for some baking.


  • Play games with your little one – simple board games (like snakes and ladders) and card games (like snap and go fish) are great for practising turn-taking, sharing, waiting and learning to cope with not winning!

Every child is different

Remember, every child develops at their own pace and has their own strengths, interests, temperament and approach to learning. Don’t worry if your child doesn’t demonstrate all of the ‘school readiness’ skills and behaviours described above. If you feel at all concerned with your little one’s development, talk to their teacher/early childhood educator or your GP – they will be able to provide assessment and advice.

This article is reproduced with kind permission from Learning Potential, an app and website produced by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training. For more articles visit’


poster for JNC playgroup helping with school readiness

Transition to School Playgroup

The Junction Neighbourhood Centre offers a targeted playgroup, free of charge, to help your child develop school readiness skills in a friendly and sociable atmosphere. This playgroup runs on Mondays in school term from 10-11.30am at Chifley Public School. Phone 9349 8200 or email




* Help your child learn school-readiness skills through play

Come along to The Junction Neighbourhood Centre’s workshop on Building Relationships Through Play on 12 September in Randwick. A great way to grow closer to your child while enhancing their development. The speaker is from the UNSW Parent-Child Research Unit.

Phone 9349 8200 to book or email






There are no comments yet

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *