STARTING SCHOOL: How to know if your child is ready

04 January 2016

Starting school can be daunting (for both child and parent) at the best of times.

Of course, as parents, you want to set your child up for success and independence as they start their educational journey, but how can you tell if your child is ready for school?

There are several domains you can look at when assessing your child’s school readiness.

Consider the following generic dot points to see if your child will thrive at school:


  • Self-care independently e.g. toileting and blowing own nose
  • Dressing independently including putting on and taking off school shoes
  • Opening and closing own lunch boxes and food packaging and containers
  • Able to take care of personal belongings and tidy up
  • Take ownership of personal tasks (e.g. packing, unpacking bag)

Social Skills

  • Share toys and belongings
  • Make independent choices, when appropriate
  • Able to take turns
  • Engage in imaginative and creative play
  • Use manners

Listening and Language

  • Demonstrate active listening at group times and during1:1 conversation (eye contact, focussed)
  • Follow simple instructions adequately
  • Retell a story in sequence
  • Use speech that is clearly understood

Cognitive Skills

  • Build age appropriate puzzles
  • Know main body parts, main colours and basic 2D shapes
  • Know their name and surname
  • Able to draw a simple person
  • Able to copy simple shapes e.g. horizontal line, vertical line, circle

Fine Motor Skills

  • Demonstrate hand dominance
  • Hold pencil with tripod grip and good control
  • Able to use scissors
  • Able to thread beads
  • Write own name using a capital letter to start and the rest in lower case letters

Gross Motor Skills

  • Able to sit cross-legged on the carpet
  • Climb playground apparatus
  • Stand and walk on tiptoes
  • Hop
  • Stand on one foot for 1-5 seconds
  • Catch a ball with two hands
  • Kick a ball

(Please note this list is not exhaustive, nor definitive)

If your child is struggling in a few of these areas, an Occupational Therapist can help your child achieve these skills.

Written by

Aimee York

Aimee York is the Director and Principal OT of KinderCloud. She is experienced in the assessment and intervention of children and adolescents. In particular, Aimee has a special interest area of working with children and adolescents who experience difficulties with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Global Developmental Delays, attention and behavioural difficulties, social skills, functional skills (including toileting and feeding), School Readiness and pre-school academic skills, gross motor skills, fine motor skills and sensory processing.

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  • Guest - Julie
    my youngest daughter will be starting school next year and she's ready. A lot more confident and motivated. Shows very good concentration skills and loves kiddy too. But my oldest now in year 2 is struggling. She is autistic and I wished we would have waited for her to start school another term later. She is so far behind her classmates it's very hard to cope with at times. She has a good O.T and speech pathologist now so hopefully this makes a difference.she wasn't diagnosed until she was nearly 6.

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