School readiness | Western Cape Government

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School readiness

School ReadinessTo make sure that your child is ready for school is more than just getting your child accepted at a preschool or primary school at age 6 or 7. Age is only one of the factors that are involved in determining if your child is ready for school. Parents or guardians should make sure that children are prepared in the following ways:

  • Emotional: The child must have some ability to control their emotions and must be reasonably independent, confident and able to adapt to being separated from their current caregiver. A period of adjustment is normal, such as crying for the first few days or weeks when starting Grade R or Grade 1.
  • Physical: Your child should be able to do some physical activity such as running, walking, ball catching, etc. Prepare your child for school by teaching them how to hold and use pencils, cutlery, scissors, etc. They must also be able to use the bathroom unassisted.
  • Social: This is all about how your child interacts with others and their environment. They should be able to communicate and share their toys with other children as well as easily join/integrate with a new group.
  • Language development: This includes their vocabulary, speaking and listening skills. Your child must be able to have a conversation in their home language. They should be able to express themselves so that others can understand. Basic numbers, letters, understanding the concept of time (before, after, day, night, etc.) and must be able to follow and remember the details of stories.

Your child’s readiness for Grade R and Grade 1 and their experience in their first school year, will lay the foundation for the rest of their time at school.

Tips for parents:

The Western Cape Education Department offers the following advice to parents for children from Grade R to Grade 6:

  • Chat with your child about school – about friends, activities, teachers and assignments.
  • Set goals – make sure they are achievable, and focus on achieving them one at a time.
  • Praise your child for specific achievements – focus on your child’s strengths and celebrate progress.
  • Encourage your child if they fail a test – it’s a test, your child isn’t a failure. Nurture and offer the right support and they’ll make progress.

How to support your child with reading and writing

  • Make reading to your child a daily habit.
  • If your child can read, let them read to you daily.
  • It’s important that your child see you read either for work, leisure (newspapers, magazines, books) or study purposes.
  • Chat with them about what they’re reading such as the main characters, the plot and their thoughts on the subject. This is a good way to talk to them about values and teach them life lessons.
  • Let them help you cook and ask them to read the food labels and recipes.
  • Read nursery rhymes and storybooks that are right for their age. Play a rhyming game with them.
  • Let your child join a library and visit often. Help your child by looking for and choosing interesting books.
  • Ask your child what they did in class and let them show you. This is an opportunity to practice reading, writing and maths.

School ReadinessHow to support your child (Grade R to Grade 3) in numeracy

Here are some practical tips from WCED:

Sort and count

  • Let your child sort items in the house and tell you how they have grouped them, for example, clothing by colour or clothing type.
  • Count to 100 objects; allow your child to group objects and count in 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, 10s, etc. Partition 2, 3-digit numbers in different ways.
  • Encourage your child to estimate, for example, tall, long, high, how many macaroni noodles you intend cooking for your macaroni cheese dish and count the macaroni to check.
  • Encourage your child to help you while you cook or bake, for example, ask for a ½ cup of flour etc.
  • Do halving (start with sharing of sweets between 2 and then to more children).
  • Let your child cut the sandwich into 2, 3 or 4 equal pieces.

Measurement and money

  • Encourage your young child to use their hand or foot to measure distance etc. Later, use a ruler or tape measure to measure lengths of objects, sides of shapes, circumferences of a ball or potato, etc.
  • Allow your child to help sort items in the house, for example, heavy items on the bottom shelf and light items on the top shelf of the grocery cupboard.
  • Allow your child to buy and pay for an item at the shop when you buy groceries or clothing. Make them check the change. Play shop at home with items you’ve priced. Let your child arrange the price of the items from the most expensive to the cheapest.


  • Ask your child to tell you the time during the day. Start just with ‘on the hour’ then ‘half-hours’, then ‘quarter hours’ and lastly the minutes, for example, It’s twenty-six past five.
  • Make your child aware of the length of time, for example, ask: What takes more time, walking or driving to school or eating supper?

Calculations while travelling

  • Make good use of your time while travelling; look at car registration plates. Let your child add the first 2 or last 3 numbers, they can subtract the smallest number from the biggest number.


  • Make your child aware of shapes in and out of the house, for example, squares, circles, rectangles, triangles.
  • Encourage your child to find patterns in nature, for example, leaves, flowers, in windblown sand etc.

Games to play

  • Encourage your child to play Monopoly, dominoes, snakes and ladders, ludo, card games like ‘Happy Families’ and Heads and Tails, skipping, hop-scotch and traditional games involving counting.

In addition 

You can also help your child and your teacher by

  • ensuring your child arrives at school on time,
  • ensuring your child obtains exercise books and any other relevant books in the first week of school,
  • checking that your child has read, written and practised maths every day,
  • ensure that your child has adequate exercise and sleep,
  • checking your child's exercise books regularly,
  • appreciating the importance of homework; although it shouldn't exceed 10 minutes a day in the first two terms of Grade 1, and 15 minutes in terms 3 and 4,
  • discussing your child's progress with the teacher (Your school should provide you with an assessment plan at the beginning of the year and a formal progress report at the end of each term), and
  • ensuring your child attends school every day for the 200 days of the school year.

COVID-19 Information for Parents

COVID-19 can affect children’s social, emotional, and mental well-being. Trauma faced at this developmental stage can continue to affect them across their lifespan. Children may worry about themselves, their family, and friends getting ill with COVID-19. We can play an important role in helping them make sense of what they hear in a way that is honest, accurate, and minimizes anxiety or fear.

If you're unsure of how to teach your child about COVID-19, you can use our resources to gain valuable tips on how to teach your child about the pandemic.  

Please note: The above information serves as a guideline only, as all children mature and develop at their own pace.

Other information:

The content on this page was last updated on 6 January 2022