I don’t think my four-year-old son is ready for school
Q My four-year-old son is due to start school in September and is attending preschool five mornings a week as part of the free preschool year. I thought he was doing fine there, though he rarely talks about it when he gets home. However, when I spoke to his teacher recently she said she had a lot of concerns regarding his progress. She said he finds it hard to stay seated for the structured exercises and often hits out at children who co me into his space. She implied he would need to make a lot of progress if he was to be ready to start school in September and that he wouldn’t cope if he started as he was.
When I came home I was devastated and cried all evening. Now I am just wondering what I can do to help him. He will be five at the end of August so I don’t have the option of delaying sending him for another year. Do you think I should have him assessed? Or what can I do to get him ready for school?
A At this time of year lots of parents are making decisions about their young children starting school next September. For some, the dilemma is whether their child would be better to wait to start until next year, when they might be older and more able to cope with the demands of primary school. For others like yourself, the question is how best to prepare their children for the transition from preschool to school and it is certainly important to think about this.
Dealing with concerns about yo ur children
It is very upsetting as a parent when you first receive feedback from a teacher that your child might be struggling or not progressing as well as other children his/her age. However well this information is put, it can come as a shock and it can bring up all sorts of worries about the future and how your child might cope in school. You can feel unnecessarily guilty that there was something you missed or something you didn’t do as a parent.
However, once you get over the initial upset, the important thing is to realise that it is better to get information earlier rather than later about your son’s progress because this gives you more of an opportunity to address things and to help him.
Even if the teacher’s view is mistaken, and your son’s behaviour is only a blip that resolves itself as he matures, it is still helpful for his teacher to share her perception with you so you can work together to ensure the best learning experience for your son.
Work closely with the preschool teacher
In helping your son, the first step is to go back to the preschool teacher and get more specific and detailed information on how your son is getting on within the preschool. Set aside a time to meet her and explore in detail when/where the problems happen and how she has tried to manage them. Try to understand the reasons for hitting out – is it that he does he not know yet how to share or how to communicate his feelings when upset or does he find children being in his space difficult?