Milestones To Check Off Before Big School

How did your little one get so big so quickly that the time to consider “Big School” is just around the corner?! And on this note, how do you know that your child is as prepared as possible to cope with the demands of big school?


There are several considerations to assess your child’s school readiness. These are:

  • Academic readiness
  • Physical (motor) skills
  • Social skills
  • Emotional maturity

All these aspects are extremely important in ensuring that your child does achieve their full potential.

Academic Readiness

Your child’s creche or nursery school should have taught them certain academic competencies. If your child didn’t attend a creche or nursery school, they  will need to catch up in Grade 1. 

Although the academic preparedness of new Grade Ones may differ according to their circumstances, the general expectation is that your child will have the following skills:

  • Recognize his/her written name
  • Can name and recognize colours
  • Speaks well enough to make him/herself understood
  • Able to participate in a conversation, taking turns to listen and speak
  • Able to follow basic instructions
  • Be able to count to at least 10
  • Can understand sorting and grouping
  • Knows and identifies shapes

Physical/Motor Skills

Certain fine- and gross-motor skills will allow your child to participate actively in the classroom, as well as keep up with their classmates during playtimes and breaks. These include: 

  • Be able to hold a pencil correctly and form basic letters and numbers
  • Goes to the bathroom by him/herself; has bladder control
  • Blows his/her own nose
  • Being able to kick and catch a ball
  • Washes own hands
  • Crosses their own midline (can place left hand on right hip, or draw a line between two objects on opposite sides of a page)
  • Copies patterns
  • Ties shoelaces

Social Skills

It’s important for your child to get along with others in a classroom environment. Does your child:

  • Share with others
  • Understand the concept of taking turns
  • Listen to others
  • Relate to peers and adults
  • Participate in activities with others 

Emotional Maturity

They’re getting so big, but is your child emotionally ready for big school? 

  • Can separate from their caregiver to participate in school
  • Shares the teacher’s attention with others
  • Shows empathy and understanding of the pain of others
  • Can work independently or in a group
  • Shows signs of persevering with tasks
  • No longer carries around a dummy or “blanky”


If your child displays most of the above, this is a good indication that they will be able to perform some of the important tasks at school and cope well enough not to be left behind their peers. 

Ready For Big School

Should you have concerns about whether or not your child will be able to cope well at school (or be on an equal footing with their peers), you can set up a meeting with the child’s Kindergarten teacher, or even an Educational Psychologist. These professionals will give you expert advice. 

BrightSparkz Tutors offers a 10-lesson program specifically for young learners called Little Sparkz. This school-readiness program will take your child through a variety of age-specific activities, ensuring they are able to meet the requirements to succeed in Big School. You can take your child through the materials and lessons yourself, or with the help of a nanny or au pair. 

It’s better for your child to repeat Kindergarten rather than starting school before they are ready. Starting school too early can be more stressful to your child in the long-term, causing stress and your child to  struggle to keep up with the required standard. This can lead to a loss of self-worth and confidence. 

Having your child repeat Kindergarten is often in the best interests of the child (especially those born in the second half of the year) to allow for maturity and coping in all aspects, and to prevent problems further along in their academic career. It is a decision not to be taken lightly due to the long-term outcomes, so it is best to consult with education experts before making your final decision. 

You know your child best, and with the help of their favourite Kindergarten teacher or an excellent educational psychologist, or maybe even a 10 week school-readiness course, you can make the best decision for your child’s future! It takes a village to raise a child, and the BrightSparkz village is here to help :)


This article first appeared on, and was written by Natalie Wilke, BrightSparkz Staff & Blog Writer