Whist at pre-school, parents should be informed regularly of their child’s growth and development and of any problems their child may present – academically, emotionally, and socially.
Parents find it hard when told their child may need some intervention towards better progress. However, the teachers have your child’s interest at heart, so calmly – Consider their recommendations – Explore options – and then, take Action.
The benefits of the decision to progress to Grade 1 depends a great deal on how sensitively and openly the discussion is handled by the parents and school, so as to not adversely affect the child emotionally and socially.
The close bond between parent and child must be handled with sensitivity. It will determine how successful cooperation amongst all parties will be.
Who is the ‘At-Risk’ child?
‘At-risk’ children can be amongst the youngest in the class – despite when the cut-off date for acceptance may be. However, not all children in this category should be considered as being at-risk. Older children may also present ‘at-risk’ symptoms. This is very much dictated by the individual child.
The decision to admit a child into Grade 1 or not, should be taken in consultation with the child’s teacher/s. It does, however, ultimately remain the parents’ decision.
Possible Indicators of an ‘At-Risk’ child
Each case must be evaluated individually. Guidelines that may be of help:
- A lack of security, separation anxiety and clingy behaviour when meeting new people.
- Lack of confidence or the inability to achieve his potential.
- Lack of independence, thus reliance on adult support, direction, and encouragement.
- Undeveloped skills – particularly fine muscle motor skills, and immature language ability.
- A Parent’s ‘gut feeling’: The least scientific indicator, yet still important and effective, is your ‘gut feeling’. Most parents will know instinctively that their child is not coping as well as he/she should be.
Guidelines for parents on how to handle the situation:
- Parents are extremely hesitant to seek professional advice, due to their fear that their child will be misdiagnosed or that their condition reflects on their parenting (which it does not). But remember, teachers and professionals are objective and specialized and they have your child’s best, long-term educational future at heart. Hear them out with an open mind; try to maintain a calm demeanour and be realistic about your child’s capabilities.
- In the interest of your child, try to adopt a positive view regarding seeking such professional opinions and advice – to either verify your observations and ‘gut-feeling’ – or not. Keep in mind that pre-primary-trained teachers and other professionals deal with children on a daily basis in the more structured educational environment and are well equipped to give you their observations and advice.
- However, do keep in mind that the eventual, final decision regarding intervention is yours. If this is contrary to the advice given you, stand by it but in the event that it proves the wrong one, do not hold responsible or blame the very people who tried to help and advise you initially.
- Children whose physical and intellectual skills are not yet sufficiently developed may need a further year of consolidation to enhance emotional well-being and confidence in a social and group situation.
Barbara Daniel, Principal
St Martin’s Pre-Primary School