Written by Windy Chou MS, OTR/L
Many of the thoughts that race through parents’ heads when choosing a preschool involve wondering what kind of discipline system they have, what teaching philosophy the school provides academically or socially, what are the facilities like, how accommodating or communicative will the staff be about their children’s progress, and at times even the type of food served or educational level of the teaching staff… the list goes on. Usually the questions are about choosing the right school that fits their child and their family. However, the tables are turned when enrollment season begins for public school kindergarten or first grade, as children are expected to go to their “home” school based on their residing neighborhood, and attend a certain grade based on when their child is born. A child is expected to fit into a pre-set school environment and parents then ask “will my child be ready for school?” Most parents believe their children to be automatically ready for school by the time they reach the age of enrollment, and they are usually correct. Or if a child struggles with transitioning into school, they expect teachers to be the ones who will help them get their children ready for school. There is also an unspoken assumption by most school staff and teachers, that a child has attended some sort of structured or organized group that will make the transition into school easier. The ease and success of the transition to school is what is known as “school readiness.”
WHAT IS SCHOOL READINESS?
School readiness doesn’t just involve knowing your name, body parts, ABCs, or 123s but involve also the following:
Often a child who has never attended any sort of organized group activity, or spent considerable amount of time with peers or other adult authority figures, may require more assistance during the transition period or the first few weeks of school. They may require explicit teaching by parents or teachers on the non-academic skills listed above to get them ready for school. However, if a child continues to have difficulties even after preschool, or parents anticipate difficulties in the areas above, there are activities that can be done at home to promote school readiness.
The following web article authored by therapists includes ways to identify potential concerns that may impact school transition, as well as ideas for use in the home: https://childdevelopment.com.au/areas-of-concern/school-readiness/. At Almaden Valley Children's Therapy Center, we are enrolling children in a weekly OT school readiness group that can help if you believe your child needs facilitation in school readiness. More information on the group can be found here: http://www.almadenvalleychildrenstherapycenter.com/groups.html.
I have been an admirer of the work being done at Animal Assisted Happiness for a long time. As often as I can, I champion the work that they do by promoting them to organizations I belong to that give out grants or by simply adding them to my Amazon smile account so that they can receive small contributions for every dollar I spend through Amazon. I have also had the opportunity to directly see the work that they do impact the lives of children. AAH brought their animal to a school that I once worked at and the joy that it brought to both the students and the staff was palpable. I was so happy to connect with Christine, the AAH operations manager, who attended our recent grand re-opening celebration. With her help, we were able to schedule 2 visits at our clinic.
We had our first visit last week, on March 28th. They brought three bunnies, a ginny pig, and a CHICKEN! It was such a joy to hold them, pet them, and interact with everyone who also came to meet the animals. I certainly enjoyed having them for a visit and felt calmer and happier after they left. Their mission is to provide a million smiles. They can definitely add me to their smile count because I was certainly smiling afterwards!
You won't want to miss our next visit which is planned for May 24th at 2:30-3:30! Stop by after your kids get out of school. If you want to reserve a space at their next visit please sign up on our events page.