Parents and caregivers knowledge of school readiness for children admitted to Grade R and Grade 1

Patricia Ann de Witt, Kirsten du Toit, Denise Franzsen


Introduction: Children with scholastic difficulties, including failure to adapt to or thrive in formal schooling, are frequently referred
to occupational therapists. Assessment of these children indicates that many of them have not attained the essential school-readiness
skills. Concerns have been raised that parents/caregivers often only consider school-readiness with respect to age rather than other
developmental milestones. Research has found that the parents’ or caregivers’ understanding and ability to determine their children’s
development in relation to school-readiness is important if the child is to succeed academically. The purpose of this study was to explore
parents’ or caregivers’ knowledge of school-readiness as per the expectations for formal schooling as defined by the current National
Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) and the Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa, (ISASA).
This study used a quantitative, descriptive, cross sectional survey research design. Stratified sampling was used to select
a sample of parents or caregivers of children admitted to Grade R and Grade 1 level at schools in the Gauteng Province. A self-report
questionnaire, specifically designed from the literature was circulated to parents/caregivers by participating schools.
Results: There was a 41.2% return rate, but only 180 returned questionnaires could be analysed. The results found that that
57.9% of the participants had the correct expectation of school-readiness in ten learning areas within the questionnaire. Participants
viewed school-readiness most correctly in the learning areas of Thinking and reasoning (78.9%) and Motor ability (76.8%), while the
learning areas of Activities of daily living (ADL) (48.9%), Reading and viewing (48.2%) and Language structure and use (33.7%) were
rated with less accuracy, with both under-estimations and over-estimations reported. The mother’s level of education was the single
demographic factor found to have significance with respect to knowledge of variables related to school-readiness.
Conclusion: T
he parents/caregivers in this study had a fair understanding of some of the variables included in school-readiness, but
their ability to determine others, including ADL, was limited. Occupational therapists should be cognisant of the curriculum criteria for
school-readiness and should play a role in raising awareness of school-readiness criteria among parents and caregivers wherever possible,
to prevent scholastic under-achievement due to lack of school-readiness.

Key words: Awareness of school-readiness, activities of daily living, reading and viewing skills, language structure and use, mother’s level
of education

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