Prep Readiness: An Occupational Therapy Perspective

The transition from kindy (a more unstructured and playful environment), to prep can feel like a giant leap for both parents and children alike.

Wondering what skills your child should master to ease this transition? Look no further! In this blog post, we’ll delve into the essentials of prep readiness from an OT perspective.

* It’s important to note that development and skills look different for every child, and that there is no right or wrong when it comes to prep readiness. This blog post will look at skills that are helpful for the transition into prep, but is not an exhaustive or static list!

So, what are the foundational building blocks for school according to OTs?

  • Regulation: This is the ability to manage emotions, behaviour, and attention to adapt to different situations. In the classroom, it’s about maintaining the right level of focus and energy regardless of distractions or emotions.
  • Sensory Processing: Being able to receive, interpret, and respond to sensory input from the environment. 
  • Executive functioning: This includes skills such as planning, organising, and impulse control, which are essential for regulation. By improving these skills, children can better manage their thoughts, behaviours, and emotional responses.
  • Interaction/play skills: The ability to interact and communicate effectively with others and during play (e.g., turn taking, following rules, imaginative play). 
  • Fine motor skills: The coordination and control of small muscles, typically involving the hands and fingers, used for tasks like writing, drawing, buttoning, and using utensils.
  • Gross Motor Skills: The coordination and control of large muscles, typically involving the arms, legs, and core, used for activities such as running, jumping, throwing, and climbing.
  • Self-care skills: Activities related to taking care of oneself, including dressing, feeding, grooming, toileting, and hygiene routines.

Now, let’s break down some specific skills to consider when gauging prep readiness:

  • Independence in Dressing: Can your child manage medium-large buttons, use zippers, and put on socks and shoes by themselves?
  • Toilet Independence: Are they able to use the toilet independently, including wiping themselves?
  • Coping with Frustration: Can your child handle minor setbacks and frustrations with resilience?
  • Problem-Solving Abilities: Do they attempt to solve problems independently, even if it’s just figuring out how to reach a toy on a high shelf?
  • Attention Span: Can they sit still and focus on a story for about 20 minutes without excessive fidgeting or distraction?
  • Lunchtime Skills: Can they open lunch box containers and unscrew water bottle lids without assistance?
  • Drawing Skills: Can they draw basic shapes (circle, square, angled lines, possibly a triangle)and a person with 7 features (head, body, arms, legs, eyes, nose, mouth)?
  • Physical Coordination: Can they complete big body movements like throw and catch a medium ball, walk up/down steps reciprocally (one foot per stair), navigate unfamiliar environments, climbing a ladder with 5 rungs

How can parents support prep readiness skills at home?

  1. Establish Routine: Consistency is key! Set up a daily routine at home that mimics the structure of a school day. This helps children become accustomed to transitions and fosters independence. 
  2. Independence: Empower your child to take on tasks independently, like dressing themselves or packing their backpack. Start with small steps and gradually increase responsibilities. 
  3. Social Interaction: Arrange playdates or group activities to help your child develop social-emotional skills like sharing, taking turns, and cooperating with others. Practice simple conversations and encourage empathy and understanding. 
  4. Fine Motor Skills: Engage in activities that strengthen hand muscles and improve hand-eye coordination, such as drawing, cutting with scissors, and playing with small toys. 
  5. Encourage Exploration: Create opportunities for your child to explore new environments, materials, and experiences. Visit parks, museums, and other places of interest to stimulate curiosity and expand their knowledge base. 

How can an Occupational Therapist help?

  • Assessment and Evaluation: An OT can conduct comprehensive assessments to identify any areas of concern related to sensory processing, motor skills, or self-regulation that may impact school readiness.
  • Individualised Intervention Plans: Based on assessment findings, an OT can develop personalised intervention plans tailored to your child’s specific needs, targeting areas requiring improvement and building on strengths.
  • Collaboration with Educators: An OT can collaborate with teachers and other school staff to ensure your child’s needs are met in the classroom setting, providing recommendations for accommodations, modifications, and supportive strategies.
  • Parent Education and Support: An OT can offer guidance and support to parents, equipping them with strategies and techniques to promote their child’s development and school readiness at home.
  • Monitoring and Progress Tracking: Through ongoing therapy sessions, an OT can monitor your child’s progress, adjust intervention strategies as needed, and provide regular updates on their development towards school readiness goals.


If our Occupational Therapists can help you support your child’s prep readiness, contact us today to book a Client Journey Planning session!

Renee Williams

Occupational Therapist