As a Neurofeedback Practitioner, I am always stunned by the number of Grade 1 parents contacting us for help early in their child’s grade 1 year. So many of the parents tell us that the teachers identified that the child cannot concentrate. When asked, more often than not, parents indicate that a lack of concentration was never an issue before. So why now?

In South Africa, by law, children should go to Grade 1 the year in which they turn seven – thus creating the impression that age determines school readiness. Unfortunately, it is not as easy as that! We should not only gauge a child’s readiness for school by his or her age. Children vary greatly in their levels of emotional maturity. This is partly influenced by parenting but also depends on the natural, biological developmental process and the environmental stimulus. Therefore, the child’s overall development should be considered. Some developmental milestones are easy to observe, but others are much more subtle. Undetected, these underdeveloped skills could lead to academic and social issues later in the child’s school.

So, what should we consider?
When we talk about development, we should look at the different aspects thereof:

emotional
social
physical
intellectual
language development
These are broad terms… not always easily observed and understood. Let me break it down for you, identifying a few traits to look out for:

Confidence. Is your child confident enough to speak up when he/she is uncomfortable or needs help? In the daunting larger Grade 1 environment, children need to be able to let the teacher know when they need a bathroom break, are feeling ill, do not have the right tools or are being bullied.

 Separation. Drama dropping off your child at school? Some crying in the first few weeks is normal. However, teachers simply don’t have the capacity to console a tearful child all day long. Sitting next to your child in the grade 1 class during school hours should not be an option.

 Responsibility. Can your child look after his/her ‘stuff’? Do lunchboxes come back home at the end of the day, or do you need to buy new ones on a weekly basis?

 Concentration. Oh! This one is a tough one! Is your child able to sit still, at a table and concentrate for relatively long periods at a time? Remember in nursery school children move a lot! A grade 1 child is expected to sit still and work – a lot!

 Problem solving. Can your child solve little problems as the day goes on? Forgot a ruler – borrow one; lost a school jersey – go to the lost property box.

 Independence. Can your child complete most tasks on his/her own or is he/she constantly running to his teacher’s table for approval or intervention?

 Persistence. Is “I can’t” the norm with your child?

A School Readiness Assessment provides a baseline of your child’s current level of ability in the specific areas which equips them to cope with formal learning situations. It is therefore invaluable to you as the parent and to your child’s teacher, regarding their strengths and the areas in which attention is still required before they make the transition to Grade 1.

Brain Gain is equipped and geared to provide parents with a unique School Readiness Assessment which evaluates the child’s cognitive and physical development, as well as his/her ability to concentrate. When the assessment highlights areas of concern, parents receive a customised activity pack which can be used at home with your child to have fun practicing skills to develop the problem areas.