How does the Approaches to Learning domain and Temperament impact ‘school readiness’?

In order to answer that question, we need to define “school readiness”. The National Education Association defines school readiness as the “academic knowledge, independence, communication and social skills children need to do well in school”, defined as:
• Academic knowledge – children have a basic knowledge of themselves, their families and the world around them
• Social readiness – children are able to get along with others, follow directions, and take turns
• Independence – children are able to complete basic self-help tasks which builds confidence and self-esteem
• Communication skills – children are able to listen, speak, read and write to express thoughts and feelings

The temperament of each child impacts how they learn about and experience their world. This in turn impacts how ready they are for school. A child that is cautious may tentatively try something after they have watched other children; a child that is feisty may start an activity before all of the directions or materials have been given or prepared; and a child that is easy may not thoroughly explore the activity. Each of these propensities impacts how children take in and use new learning.

We can also look at how children interact with their surroundings by examining their ’emotional style’, their ‘activity level’, and  their ‘social nature’.

Emotional style: watch how the child reacts to a new learning experience. A child that has a strong negative reaction may need a few chances to try something new before they like it. In the Approaches to Learning domain , this refers to a child’s tolerance for risk-taking and persistence.

Activity level: when planning activities, ask how active is your child. Some children need coaxing to try new activities, others need a more ‘restraining’ hand! In the Approaches to Learning domain, this may be part of their curiosity, risk-taking, or imagination & invention.

Social nature: watch how your child communicates their thoughts and feelings. Are they open and willing to share, or do they sit back and watch. In the Approaches to Learning domain, this is reflective of their risk taking and reflection & interpretation characteristics.

Observing each child’s emotional style, activity level, and social nature can provide invaluable insight into how they learn. This will help caregivers provide support for each child so they are gaining the most from each experience.

Resources for article
Nurturing Children’s Talents; University of Missouri Extension; available online at: http://extension.missouri.edu/publications/DisplayPrinterFriendlyPub.aspx?P=GH6127

Part 3 will look at nurturing all children