Every child is born with potential but they are totally dependent on their relationship with an adult, usually parents and teachers, to guide them to adulthood. They are born with passion and potential and the ability to persevere, make decisions, take on challenges, and learn the skills that will equip them to deal effectively with their world.

When a child is not school ready, it is because they are not at a developmental level that will enable them to cope with Grade 1. Research has shown that the quality of parenting that a child receives is the key factor to their healthy development. Yet in the training of all professionals qualified to assess and work with children the role of the parent is underplayed or ignored.

The Smartchoice Parenting programme has been developed based on the philosophy and theory that it is the manner in which the child is parented that is at the core of all the development problems including learning and behaviour. Personally, I have found that when parents understand their role and are prepared to take responsibility as the authority figures in their child’s life and manage them in a calm and assertive manner, the child is able to develop and reach the educative level required in a healthy manner. This enables them to become independent and deal with the challenges in their world in a determined and persevering manner.

I have found that children who are not at an appropriate developmental level seemed to display the following characteristics:

  • The children only enjoy doing what they want to do
  • They lacked perseverance
  • They avoided challenges – especially if they were unsure of the outcomes
  • They tended to opt out of activities – if they were uncertain of the outcomes

In other words, these children were very dependent on an adult to assist them, especially with activities that challenge the child require some level of perseverance. From my experience, children who are dependent, have low self-esteem and they lack confidence; as they get older they tend to lack self-discipline. Over the years I have also noted that many of these children don’t enjoy school and as a result don’t pay attention in class. It would appear that in many cases, especially for the lower grades, children are given the tacit message that it doesn’t matter if they don’t pay attention in class because when they get home there will be someone to help them. This someone could be a parent, and Au Pair, or an extra lesson teacher.

It astounds me that there are some institutions offering extra Maths and English to Grade 1 learners. Every healthy child can read and can do Maths if they make the effort. So what is happening is that learners are getting the message that they don’t have to pay attention in class which in fact, means that we are encouraging them to what is known as ‘learned helplessness’.

However, the most worrying aspect of dependent learners is that they lack grit and determination. Research has shown that grit and determination is the key predictor to success in life. In fact, more so than IQ or academic achievement. The main educators responsible for Instilling  grit and determination into a child are the parents. It therefore makes sense that when a child is not school ready, there is a strong likelihood that they are a dependent child who may have a parent who is over protective, controlling or perhaps autocratic.

The Smartchoice Parenting programme (SCPP) equips parents with the tools that will ensure that they manage their child in a manner that will ensure that they develop into more motivated, independent, and well socialized learners. All the ingredients that are necessary to ensure that a child is ready to enter Grade 1 are encompassed in the SCPP.