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Get Ahead Kids - Vol. 5, No. 1 - January/February 2013

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School Readiness

By Dorte Bladt D.C.

Starting 'big' school is an exciting and anxious time for both your youngster and the rest of the family.

I remember my daughter's first day at school - I was trying not to cry as she waved goodbye going into the classroom to start her school life.

At the end of the day, I waited impatiently for her by the school gate - I couldn't wait to see her and hear how her day had gone. Finally she came skipping through the gate and we walked home eagerly chatting about her first day.

Then I asked that question; 'What did you learn at school today?' And my daughter reflected and answered despondently; 'Not enough, I have to go back again tomorrow'.

In my practice parents often ask about the right time to send their youngsters to "big" school.

General Guidelines on School Readiness

  • The child has to be in school by their sixth birthday
  • Social maturity is probably the most important factor including social
  • interaction & sharing time, space & toys with other children
  • Pencil grip, tying shoe laces & the alphabet can be taught later

Questions Parents Need to Answer with a Yes

Does your child:

  • Cope without you?
  • Speak & interact with the other kids?
  • Use the toilet independently?
  • Run, jump & throw things - not at the teacher or the other kids!
  • Dress themself, unpack their lunch &
    feed themself?
  • Communicate their emotions & exert some control over what they do?
  • Show interest in learning & can concentrate on a task for 10 minutes?
  • Want to hold & scribble with pencils/crayons?

The part of the brain which deals with logic, analytical and small things such as letters and numbers doesn't start maturing until 7 years of age. Prior to the age of 7 the brain develops through movement, balance, creativity, and singing all of which are pre-requisites for cognitive learning.

The ability to control the movement of the eyes close up, as in tracking and holding in place, which we need for reading, doesn't develop until about 7 years of age.

Finland has consistently had the highest literacy rates in OECD over the past many years and youngsters don't start school until they are 7 years old.

Hints for the Journey of Learning

  • Remember that your child spends 6 hours trying to sit still, be quiet and behave. When they come home, they will be tired and ready to let loose. So limit after school plans such as swimming and piano lessons, allow them to run around (outside is best) and burn off some steam.
  • 90% of stimulation of the brain actually comes from movement of the spine, most of that from the top part of the neck. So after school it is an excellent idea to take a walk and play at the park or the backyard. If it's raining, put on a raincoat and gum boots and jump in the puddles or convert the living room into a giant cubby house. Whatever it takes to get some movement of the spine and some stimulation of the brain! Research shows that this will help their mood and behaviour as well as stimulate learning.
  • Be mindful of the time you let your children spend in front of the TV, DVD, computer, X-Box, or PSP. These are all still - sitting activities, with eyes working up close, and do not provide great stimulation for the brain and promote poor posture. The American Academy of Paediatricians recommends avoiding any screen time for under 2's. It has been shown that the time spent sitting and watching something is actually detrimental to their brain development compared to moving, exploring and stimulation. From 2 years and up: 1-2 hours per day maximum.
  • Another important factor for learning is proper nutrition. What are you feeding your child, what's in their lunch box? It is easy to buy all those pretty pre-packaged things you can get at the supermarket, and we know the kids will eat them. But do they provide our children's brains with the best sustenance to think, grow and develop? We all know what good food is - fresh, wholesome, non-processed, without flavouring, colouring and additives. Chopped fruit and vegetables are colourful, tasty and easy to eat, along with a sandwich on real bread.
  • The brain needs downtime to store and process the information it has learnt through the day. Quiet time looking at a book, chatting with family and playing Lego before an early bedtime is the best way to get ready for the next day.

About Dorte Bladt

Dorte specialises in posture and spinal health. She checks your spine to assess if the bones, muscles or ligaments are working properly and will gently, safely and naturally correct it to allow the body and the nervous system to function better. Dorte also provides advice on which exercises would be beneficial as well as which position to sleep, stand and sit in for the best possible posture.

More Information

Dorte Bladt

Doctor of Chiropractic
Family Chiropractic Centre Charlestown
2 Lincoln St, Charlestown NSW 2290
P: 02 4942 4842


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