School Readiness Discussion

School Readiness = cognitive development + social skills + emotional skills + physical skills

We are going to share this week, some extracts around school readiness and what it means. We are happy to have some (respectful) discussion around this and your examples of how you have/will/are preparing you child for school.

Monday’s School Readiness Discussion
Starting school involves a complex interplay between a range of developmental domains. A child must have cognitive (academic) competencies, in addition to social, emotional and physical skills. Too often we focus on a child’s cognitive development when considering is a child is ready for school. However, it is more important to consider the child’s overall development before determining if they are ready to start school.
‘A Parent’s Guide to School Readiness by Dr Kristy Goodwin’

In preparing our own Indi for school, our main objective was to ensure that she was ready emotionally and socially. Yes, we have the skills and resources to ‘teacher’ her, and were even told at our pre-enrollment interview that we could focus more on helping her hold her pencil and form letters…but our decision was to focus on helping her develop as a human We now have a little girl who is excited and ready to go to school. She follows her morning routine, and there are only smiles when we drop her off and pick her up! She holds her pencil just fine without being first taught at home, and she loves practicing her ‘writing’ as she sees it around her all the time…as for the specifics of academic learning, they will come through her wonderful teacher and with support at home. But because she is emotionally and socially READY to be at school, her learning will happen far more naturally.

Thoughts from Tam (reader and teacher): As a teacher (still feels weird saying that! :p) I watched two mothers quickly try to get their children into prep this year just after the prep birthdate change. I was asked to write a letter of recommendation for one child (totally ready for school) and wasn’t even consulted at all for the other (totally not ready, socially emotionally or academically). Consult the professionals that work with your children! They know them almost as well as you do.

Thoughts from Lyn (reader and teacher): In the French curriculum children don’t learn to read until 7. The two years leading up to that are heavily focused on oral language development and social skills.

Tuesday’s School Readiness Discussion
Children need to develop confidence and resilience to be successful learners. Some things parents can do to develop emotional skills are: model and praise confidence, discuss how you can bounce back from adversities, support your child when they experience disappointment or setbacks (do not shield them from them), encourage children’s efforts (process not results based), use praise honestly, encourage calculated risk taking (eg on play equipment), develop their emotional vocabulary, model how to put things on a ‘catastrophe scale’.
‘A Parent’s Guide to School Readiness by Dr Kristy Goodwin’

Some phrases you will regularly hear in our home are:
“Well done, that’s awesome”, “what a pity, such a shame, now move on”, “I understand you fell that way now what can we do about it?”, “nice effort, I’m proud of you!”, “too bad so sad”, “have a look around you and see if you can give it a try”, “how does that make you feel?”, along with plenty of “I love you” and “and love you very much but your behaviour right now is unacceptable”.

What phrases do you use to help develop your children’s emotional skills?

Reading at Home

“Reading aloud with children is known to be the single most important activity for building the knowledge and skills they will eventually require for learning to read.”
— Dr. Marilyn Jager Adams, Educational Psychologist

A conversation I have had with many parents lately has been around getting their child to read at home. We do wonderful work here in our Learning Studio to improve reading skills, but some parents still have difficulty getting their child to read at home. Here are some tips to help encourage and engage your child in reading:

  • It doesn’t matter what they are reading; it just matters that they are. Let’s not worry about the genre or text type; instead, let’s begin to celebrate that they have an interest in reading, no matter what it is. Whether it be a motorbike magazine, a cartoon based book (such as Geronimo the Mouse), something online, fact, fiction, or anything in between, it’s the actual reading of words that matters.
  • Let them make choices in what to read. Yes, they may chose the exact same book every night, but it means they are still enjoying and engaged with this book. Often, they find a safety and comfort in knowing what the story is about. To introduce variety into their reading diet, alternate between who gets to choose the story each night, or read two stories; one your child chooses, and one you choose.
  • Set up a special reading corner/space at home. Having somewhere special to go to enjoy reading can make a big difference. A tidy space where books are easily accessible is important, and a level of comfort can give that little extra motivation. For older children, a simple gesture such as a lamp on a table next to their bed may be enough. There are loads of easy ways to create your very own family reading space and Google is a great inspiration.

Check out some of these simple and realistically achievable reading nooks and corners that are reasonable to set up in the average home.

living-room-window-seat-cozy-reading-spot-nook-storage-for-books-shelves-idea-design-idea-for-teen-bedroom nook 2 nook 3 reading-nook-1-e1329421241586

 Images courtesy of,,,

And here is what it looks like currently in our house (excuse the low quality photograph, this was ‘an opportunity captured but not interrupted!’)

Indi's reading corner has easy access to her books where she make make a choice on what she 'reads' (she re-tells the story, and reads the pictures), her comfy sheep skin rug, and is slightly blocked by her bed and rocking chair to separate it from the rest of her room and reduce stimuli.

Indi’s reading corner has easy access to her books where she can make her own choices on what she ‘reads’ (she re-tells the stories, and reads the pictures). She has her comfy sheep skin rug to sit on, and is slightly blocked by her bed and rocking chair to separate it from the rest of her room and reduce stimuli.

  • Read with your child. Alternate between you reading to them, and them reading to you. It might be a page each, a chapter each, a book each (long or short), an article each. Make it about spending time together, and not focused on the chore of ‘checking’ their reading. If you know they are going to have difficulty on a particular word (especially names), tell them what it says as soon as they get to it. It is our job to teach them how to read, and it is your job is to give them opportunities to read and to feel good about it. Mileage is important. The more they read, the better they will become. A little reading should happen every single day. Reading with your child is not just for younger students. Relationships with our children don’t stop when they reach high school. Find a topic that you can share together. It could be related to a building project you can do together. Get creative and enjoy this time.
  • You DO have time to read together. As I eluded to above, reading with your child could be as little as 5 minutes or as long as an hour. You do not have to complete an entire story. I often let our 4 year old know how much I am going to read to her that night. It’s not uncommon for me to say “Indi, Mumma is feeling exhausted tonight, so we are going to read 4 pages (we’re reading picture books) and will finish the rest tomorrow.” Reading together does not have to be only at night time. Take any opportunity where you have 5 minutes to devote to your child.
3 (and a half) year old Indi and her Dadda taking an opportunity to read together

Indi (3 and a half years old) and her Dadda taking an opportunity to read together

“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift.” — Kate DiCamillo, children’s author

What works for you when it comes to reading at home with your children?

Do you have a reading nook at home?

Email me a photo of your child reading at home or of your special reading nook and I will share them with our readers 🙂

Emotional Safety in Learning

When I watched Laurie Lawrence’s video (link at bottom), a particular part resonated with me:

“Watch as Harper’s body language indicates she really doesn’t want to do this activity. Good teachers should recognise this and change the activity slightly to get the desired results.”

This is the same for teaching and learning in any environment; whether at school or tuition, good teachers and tutors should recognise the body language of their students and provide support as required.



Emotional safety is such an important thing to understand when teaching and learning. In fact, safety is the second level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and is a basic human need. It is something we are always monitoring at Back to Basics Tuition and we make changes when we see a student needs a little more ‘care’ than they usually do.

Grimm’s chart about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, 2011)

Grimm’s chart about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, 2011)

Some days we need to just suck it up and get on with the task, and some days we need a gentle heart and steady hand to guide us.

credit Image courtesy of stockphotos /​

credit Image courtesy of stockphotos /​

Laurie Lawrence Swim School – Harper Swimming Video