Is my child ready for school

When is a child ready for school?

Parents are looking for orientation

When kindergarten children start to reach school age, many parents are faced with a difficult decision. When is the right time to start school? This question is particularly urgent when a child turns six after the relevant federal state's deadline, for example. Because those born from this date until December are considered to be Can-children. This means that they do not yet have to attend school in the calendar year in which they turn six, but they can also register and start school. In North Rhine-Westphalia, September 30th has been the reference date since 2011, and December 31st in Berlin. When it comes to the question of their children's ability to go to school, parents often feel left alone. In North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, the only legal requirement is that children can start school early if they do what they need to attend school physical and mental requirements and are sufficiently developed in their social behavior.

Uncertainty from PISA

The discussions that have been going on in Germany since the international school comparison test PISA can also be unsettling. As a solution to the poor performance of German students, an earlier start to school was often requested. For example, the NRW Ministry of Education has that Minimum age for school enrollment abolished and also promised that in future all children who will be six years old in a calendar year will want to go to school. And in Berlin, for the first time in 2005, all children who have reached the age of six by December 31 in this calendar year will be required to attend school.

On the other hand, however, educators point to study results that children who start school too early are more likely to take a class later have to repeat and point out that a bad start can, under certain circumstances, cast a long shadow over the entire subsequent school years of the child. In a publication by the school psychological service Rheinisch-Bergischer Kreis it is pointed out that the view that German pupils start school too late cannot be substantiated by a comparison with other countries in which children start school at the age of five. If you take a closer look at these schools, it becomes clear that the skills that the kindergarten takes care of in Germany are addressed first. So it is important not just to ask: "Is my child ready for school at the age of five?" but also the other way around: "Is this school ready to support a five-year-old child appropriately? "

Use the experience of the educator

Today, people have largely abandoned the idea of ​​making a child's school readiness dependent on the results of a single school readiness test. On the other hand, it is more informative to observe the child in real-life situations over a longer period of time. This can primarily be the Parents and the teachers in kindergarten. The first point of contact for parents to check their own view of the child's ability to go to school should therefore be the educator. The psychologist Renate Niesel has worked out the points that parents and teachers can discuss with each other:

  • How does the child approach a new task? Is it active and confident that it will find a solution?
  • Does it show a certain perseverance?
  • Does it complete activities that have been started?
  • Does it take pleasure in what it does?
  • Does it get help when it gets stuck?
  • Is it willing to engage in and delve into adult-led activities for a period of time?
  • Can it listen to other children and adults?
  • Can it express its feelings appropriately?
  • Is it confident and self-affirming?

The school entrance examination

The school entrance examination required by law in the federal states, which is carried out by the local health authorities, can provide further clues. In Section 3 of the "Ordinance on the course of education in primary schools" in North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, it says: "The school medical examination includes the determination of the physical development level and the assessment of the general, health-related Efficiency including the sensory organs. "Section 6 states about early school enrollment:" The headmaster makes the decision taking into account the school doctor's report and after a consultation with the legal guardian. "

What exactly does the school doctor check? An explanation of this can be found on the website After that, the school entrance examination serves among other aspects

  • firstly to record the physical development status including serious physical illnesses - this includes the diagnosis of the Seeing (Peripheral vision, stereo vision, color vision including visual perception) and the diagnosis of Listening (Peripheral hearing including auditory perception) -
  • and secondly, to determine the individual level of development with a focus on the areas Motor skills and body coordination, exercise and verbal communication skills.

According to Dr. Robert Wegners, head of the child and youth health service in Cologne's health department, the experienced school doctor can "be sure of Notes on 'school suitability' regardless of whether it is a school-age child or a so-called 'can-do' child. "

The Kiel enrollment process

Parents looking for orientation can also inquire whether the so-called "Kiel enrollment procedure" is used at the respective school to assess a child's school readiness. This is a Educational game, in which a small group of school beginners (a maximum of six children) is taught by one teacher, while a second teacher observes the learning and social behavior of the children. The lessons are designed in such a way that social skills, responsiveness in the group, the ability to concentrate, willingness to work and the level of motor development are recorded and at the same time the cognitive prerequisites of the individual child are made clear. The advantage of this procedure lies in the lifelike simulation of the situation in the class, in which aspects are also observed that cannot be queried in individual enrollment tests.

What a future schoolchild should be able to do

What a future schoolchild has to bring with them is nowhere stipulated in a binding manner. And the skills educators value can vary widely. Here is a minimal catalog:

A school starter should be able to:

  • Dressing and undressing independently
  • Go to the toilet alone
  • Separate from his parents for several hours
  • Sitting still for a lesson
  • Focus and endure frustrations
  • Recreate simple shapes, letters and numbers
  • Speak flawlessly and tell simple events correctly in the correct chronological order
  • Handle scissors and glue
  • Establish contact with other children and integrate into a group

(according to Prof. Richard Michaelis, University Children's Hospital Tübingen: "Pediatrician assessment of school readiness")

Very important: does the child want to go to school?

However, this should not be underestimated when assessing school readiness School readiness of a child. This is understood to mean the child's motivation and willingness to learn. Show it Lust and zealto go to school? Is it looking forward to learning to read, write and do arithmetic? For such a child, another year in kindergarten can be downright excruciating. This often applies to younger siblings who want to go to school after their older siblings. On the other hand, children without older siblings, who possibly belong to the fearful and shy natures in kindergarten, can have another year in which they once the big ones be a crucial source of self-confidence, which is one of the most important prerequisites for a stress-free school career.

Finally, it is also important to remember that the transition to school does not take place in one day, but requires a longer process. Renate Niesel emphasizes in her article about "school readiness and school eligibility" that the schoolchild is not one from the first day of school "finished" school child: "The child only becomes a school child at school."

You can also read about this:

When your child starts school

The quoted catalog of points by Renate Niesel comes from her article: "How does our child become capable of school? Parents, kindergarten and school all contribute to this"