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What Do We Mean By Readiness?
Readiness refers to the level of preparedness that students have for developmental success both in the classroom and as they meet new learning challenges as they mature. This readiness is influenced by a variety of factors, including cognitive development, socio-emotional development, and prior experiences.
Cognitive development plays a critical role in the way in which children are ‘ready’ to learn new things. According to the work of Jean Piaget, children’s cognitive development proceeds through a series of stages, and it is important for parents and educators to understand these stages in order to effectively support their child’s learning. For example, during the preoperational stage, children are not yet able to perform mental operations, such as conversation, which is the understanding that a quantity remains the same despite changes in its appearance. Thus, educators should avoid asking questions that require conservation skills during this stage.
Socio-emotional development is also an important aspect of readiness. According to the work of Erik Erikson, children’s socio-emotional development also proceeds through a series of stages, similarly to that of Piaget’s cognitive stages. During the initiative versus guilt stage, for example, children are beginning to assert their independence and may become frustrated with adult control. Thus, parents and educators should provide students with opportunities to make choices and take responsibility for their learning during this stage, enabling children to feel empowered in taking their own initiative appropriately.
Prior experiences with education also play a role in readiness to learn new things. Levy Vygotsky, an influential researcher and educators, identified that children’s learning is influenced by their prior experiences and their interactions with more knowledgeable others (others who know differently from them). When children have the experience of a supportive and nurturing learning environment, where their prior experiences are valued, and in which they can positively interact with more knowledgeable peers and adults, they are more likely to develop both the social and cognitive skills they need to progress in their learning experiences.
Some argue that the emphasis on learner readiness can neglect the role of the educational system and societal factors in shaping students’ readiness. For instance, poverty and lack of access to quality early childhood education can be major contributors to the developmental gap between children, and addressing these underlying issues can be more effective than focusing solely on children’s readiness.
It is important to consider a holistic and multi-faceted approach to children’s readiness that takes into account the diverse needs and abilities of students, and to ensure that resources and support are available to all students, regardless of their background.
Piaget, J. (1952). The origins of intelligence in children. New York: International Universities Press.
Erikson, E.H. (1950). Childhood and society. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.