This week the findings of a survey from 780 school leaders conducted in partnership with the Family and Childcare Trust has revealed that 83% of those questioned thought there was an issue with school readiness. Of these, 86% thought that the issue had worsened in the last five years. Around a quarter (24%) were reported as saying that more than half of their intake was not school ready. Media reports have suggested that cuts are to blame for children lacking basic skills at school (I-Independent 6.9.17).
While cuts have contributed to reduction in services for pre-school children and parents, they are not the only reason for an increasing number of children starting school lacking basic communication and self-care skills.
Twelve years ago a study revealed that the motor skills of 48% of 5 -6 year olds and 35% of 8 – 9 year olds in the sample were immature and that there was a correlation between immature motor skills and lower educational performance.
Since that time we have also seen successive governments push parents to return to work and set targets for pre-school children in aspects of literacy and numeracy with little regard for the developmental needs and abilities of children in the vital pre-school years.
Added to this is an increasingly technology driven approach to living, at odds with young children’s primary biological needs for physical activity, experience and social engagement. Physical and social experience in real time and space are the building blocks for school readiness. Increasingly, parents often do not have either the time, resources, or in some cases know, that real time engagement is an essential part of human development.
Technology and a “systems” drive approach to living is squeezing the physical development of children. Unless there is political and social will to embrace the biological and developmental needs of children within society we will continue to see an increase in the number of children entering school without the physical, communication and social tools necessary to cope with the demands of the classroom.