What constitutes being developmentally ready to begin school, and how can we support this process?

Assignment type: Essay
Author: Matthew Baker
Submitted: December 2012

Readiness for school is an issue that has occupied numerous researchers, with evidence suggesting that a child’s initial readiness predicts lifelong academic and social outcomes (Duncan et al., 2007). Despite the fact that it can thus be viewed as one of the key issues in Educational Psychology, there remains a lack of clarity regarding what readiness is. This essay seeks to provide a definition that is both interactionist and systemic, incorporating pre-natal factors and consideration of curricular purpose alongside more commonly recognised environmental and developmental determinants. Readiness in this sense is seen as the result of biological and cognitive development, parental and broader social relationships, access to both social and material resources, and curricular expectations. This is framed in terms of a social constructivist and systemic ontology, which sees the child’s development as necessarily scaffolded by parent, carer and peer relationships within a complex social system. Consideration is given to the various means by which Educational Psychology can support the process at individual child, community and policy levels. Attention is drawn to gaps in the current evidence base and potential avenues for research, particularly with regard to cognitive development. Finally, the goodness-of-fit between this reading of developmental readiness and the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum is considered.

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