Teachers' Challenges in Preparing Grade R Learners for School-readiness and Strategies Used to Activate Learner-readiness


  • Mapule Yvonne Segooa
  • Habasisa Vincent Molise


early learnerhood development; interconnected system; learner school-readiness; teacher-preparedness; transition


The purpose of this study was to investigate the challenges that affect Grade R (kindergarten) learners’ readiness for learning, and the strategies used to ensure learner-readiness when entering Grade 1. Learning readiness is an ongoing process from the beginning to the end of an individual’s life. Learners at this early point in their lives (Foundation Phase) begin with their formal learning based on play, arithmetic, cultural activities, and reading and writing practice. The study engaged four teacher-participants: two Grade R teachers, and two Early Learnerhood Development practitioners from Grade 1. The case study research design was selected to elicit data through semi-structured open-ended interviews in natural settings to gain in-depth information which was analysed via the thematic analysis approach. The study findings revealed that teachers experienced challenges due to poor infrastructure, overcrowded classrooms, lack of resources, policy of passing all Grade R learners, admission of non-documented learners, and learners who skipped pre-school. To address these challenges which impacted Grade R learners’ readiness to enter Grade 1, teachers were resourceful and planned innovative and interesting play-based lessons. This ensured that Grade R learners’ readiness is largely play-based to develop them holistically by involving them in creative indoor and outdoor activities. 



Adams-Ojugbele, R.O. & Moletsane, R. (2019). Towards quality early learnerhood development for refugee learners: An exploratory study of a Grade R class in a Durban learner care centre. South African Journal of Learnerhood Education 9(1), a616. https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v9i1.616

Adeniyi, A.A. (2021). Evaluation of school-readiness of pre-school learners in Kogi state, Nigeria. Doctoral Thesis. University of Ibadan, Ibadan (Nigeria).

Ames, H., Glenton, C., & Lewin, S. (2019). Purposive sampling in a qualitative evidence synthesis: A worked example from a synthesis on parental perceptions of vaccination communication. BMC Medical Research Methodology,19(26), 2-9. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12874-019-0665-4

Aspers, P., & Corte, U. (2019). What is qualitative in qualitative research? Qualitative Sociology, 42,139-160. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11133-019-9413-7

Bell, M.F., Bayliss, D.M., Glauert, R., & Ohan, J.L. (2018). Using linked data to investigate developmental vulnerabilities in learners of convicted parents. Developmental Psychology, 57(7), 1219-1231. https://doi.org/10.1037/dev0000521.

Bhise, C.D., & Sonawat, R. (2016). Factors influencing school-readiness of learners. Research Journal of Recent Sciences, 5(5), 53-58.

Bouchane, K., Yoshikawa, H., Murphy, K.M., & Lombardi, J. (2018). Early learnerhood development and early learning for learners in crisis and conflict. Paper commissioned for the 2019 Global Education Monitoring Report, Migration, displacement, and education: Building bridges, not walls. Paris: UNESCO. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000266072/PDF/266072eng.pdf.multi [Accessed: 30 March 2023].

Bronfenbrenner, U., & Evans, G.W. (2000). Developmental science in the 21st century: Emerging questions, theoretical models, research designs and empirical findings. Social development, 9(1), 115-125.

Bruwer, M., Hartell, C., & Steyn, M. (2014). Inclusive education and insufficient school-readiness in Grade 1: Policy versus practice. South African Journal of Learnerhood Education, 4(2), 18–35. https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v4i2.202

Chere-Maphosa, J. (2022). Teachers’ Perceptions of School-readiness among Grade 1 Learners in Lesotho Schools: The Case of Roma Valley. International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research, 21(9), 291-308. https://doi.org/10.26803/ijlter.21.9.17

Chorrojprassert, L. (2020). Learner Readiness - Why and how should they be ready? Language Education and Acquisition Research Network Journal, 13(1), 268-274.

Creswell, J.W. 2014. Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approach. 5th edition. Thousand Oaks, CA.: Sage.

Dangol, R. & Shrestha, M. (2019). Learning readiness and educational achievement among school students. International Journal of Indian Psychology, 7(2), 2349-3429. https://doi.org/10.25215/0702.056

Davin, R. 2016. Handbook for Grade R teaching. Cape Town: Pearson.

Davin, R., Staden, C. & Van Rensburg, O.J. (2016). In R. Davin (Ed.). Handbook for Grade R Teaching. Cape Town: Pearson.

De Vos, A.S., Strydom, H., Fouche, C.M. & Delport, C.S.L. (2014). Research at grassroots: For the social sciences and human service professions. 4th edition. Pretoria: Van Schaik.

De Witt, M.W. (2017). The young learner in context: A psycho-social perspective. Pretoria: Van Schaik.

De Witt, P.A., Du Toit, K., & Franzsen, D. (2020). Parents and caregivers' knowledge of school-readiness for learners admitted to Grade R and Grade 1. South African Journal of Occupational Therapy, 50(1), 28-34. https://doi.org/10.17159/2310-3833/2020/vol50no1a5.

Elliott, S. & Davis, J.M. (2020). Challenging taken-for-granted ideas in early learnerhood education: A critique of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory in the age of Ecological systems theory in the age of post-humanism. Melbourne: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-51949-4_60-2.

Erasmus, M., Van Rensburg, O.J., Pienaar, A.E., & Ellis, S. (2016). The effect of a motor-intervention programme on learning readiness of Grade R learners from South Africa-deprived environments. Early Learner Development and Care, 186(4), 596-611. https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2015.1048245.

Evans, O.G. 2020. Bronfenbrenner ecological systems theory: Simply Psychology. [Online]. https://www.simplypsychology.org/bronfenbrenner.html

Excell, L. & Linington, V. 2018. Teaching Grade R. Cape Town: Juta.

Excell, L., Linington, V., & Schaik, N. (2015). Perspectives on early learnerhood education. In L. Excell & V. Linington (Eds.). Teaching Grade R. 15–36. Juta and Company Ltd.

Gove, A., Brunette, T., Bulat, J., Carrol, B., Henny, C., Macon, W., Nderu, E. & Sitabkhan, Y. (2017). Assessing the impact of early learning programs in Africa. New Directions for Learner and Adolescent Development, 2017(158), 25-41. https://doi.org/10.1002/cad.20224

Guner, F. & Kartal, H. (2019). A Review article that includes the schools’ readiness dimensions. European Journal of Education Research, 7(3), 431-443. https://doi.org/10.1093/acre for/9780/90264093.013.932

Harcourt, I.M. (2018). The effect of a perceptual-motor intervention on the school-readiness of Grade R learners. Doctoral Thesis. University of Pretoria, Pretoria.

Harris-Mortley, S.H. (2019). Jamaican Kindergarten and First Grade Teachers’ Expectations for Readiness Skills. Doctoral Dissertation. University of Walden, Washington. https://scholarworks.waldenu.edu/dissertations.

Hunter, D., McCullum, J., & Howes, D. (2019). Defining exploratory-descriptive qualitative (EDQ) research and considering its application to healthcare. Journal of Nursing and Health Care, 4(1). http://enprints.gla.ac.Uk/180272

Jahreie, J. (2022) The standard school-ready learner: the social organization of school-readiness. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 43(5), 661-679. https://doi.org/10.1080/01425692.2022.2038542

Maluleke, N.P., Khoza, Shangase, K., & Kanji, A. (2021). School-readiness and academic achievement of learners with hearing impairment: A South African exploratory study. South African Journal of Learnerhood Education, 11(1), a898. https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v11i1.898

Maphiri, T.H. (2017).The transition of learners from Grade R to Grade 1 in Mutsindudu Circuit, Vhembe District. Master’s Dissertation. University of Venda, Thoyandou (RSA).

Mashrabjonovich, O. J., & To’lqinboy Qizi, R.D. (2022). improvisation as a means of shaping the professionalism of future teachers. Spectrum Journal of Innovation, Reforms and Development, 8, 83-86. https://sjird.journalspak.org/index.php/sjird/article/view/263.

McIlroy, T. (2018). The ultimate school-readiness checklist for parents and teachers. Empowered Parents Teaching Through Play. [Online]. https://empoweredparents.co/

McMillan, J. & Schumacher, S. (2014). Researcher in education evidence-based inquiry. 7th edition. New York, NY: Pearson Education.

Michalska, P., Szymanik-Kostrzewska, A., & Trempala, J. 2018. School-readiness of preschool learners: Are six-year-old learners ready for a school education? Polskie Forum Psychologiszne, 23(1), 78-101. https://doi.org/10.14656/PFP20180106

Mokoena, M.A., & Oosthuizen, I.J. [Eds.]. (2016). A scholarly contribution to educational praxis. Aosis.

Moodley, T. & Moodley, G. (2018). Whole learner development through formal teaching and learning. In I. Eloff & E. Swart (Eds.). Understanding educational psychology. Cape Town: Juta. 102-109.

Musonda, C.M. & Matafwali, B. (2023). What Do Preschool and Grade One Teachers Say about School-readiness and Transition from Early Learnerhood Education to Grade One? A Case of Selected Schools in Zambia’s Chongwe and Lusaka Districts. American Journal of Educational Research, 11(3), 133-137. https://doi.org/10.12691/education-11-3-5.

Nair, M.K.C., Radhakrishnan, R. & Olusanya, B.O. (2023). Promoting school-readiness in learnerren with developmental disabilities in LMICs. Frontier Public Health, 11(99), 36-42. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2023.993642

Newcomer, K.E., Hatry, H.P., & Wholey, J.S. (2015). Conducting semi-structured interviews. In K. Newcomer, H.P. Hatry & J.S. Wholey (Eds.). Handbook for practical program evaluation. 4th edition. Hoboken, NJ: Jossey- Bass, 494-505. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119171386

Nissksaya, A.K. (2018). School-readiness outcomes of different preschool educational approaches. Psychology in Russia State of the Art, 11(1), 43-60. https://doi.org/10.11621/pir.2018.0104

Peckham, K. (2018). Supporting effective school-readiness in all learners. Journal of Health Visiting, 5(7): 342-345. https://doi.org/10.12968/johv.2017.5.7.342

Pan, Q., Trang, K.T., Love, H.R., & Templin, J. (2019). Readiness profile and growth in academic achievement. Frontiers in Education, 4, 1-17. https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2019.00127.

Pitchik, H.O., Tofail, F., Rahman, M., Akter, F., Sultana, J., … Fernald, L.C.H. (2021). A holistic approach to promoting early learner development: a cluster randomised trial of a group-based, multi-component intervention in rural Bangladesh. BMJ Global Health, 6(3). https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjgh-2020-004307

Rasheedah, O., Ojugbele, A., & Moletsane, R. (2019). Towards quality early learnerhood development for refugee learners: An exploratory study of a Grade R class in a Durban learner-care centre. South African Journal of Learnerhood Education, 9(1), 1-8. https://hdl.handle.net/10520/EJC-1f8f45ff34.

Ring, E., Mhathuna, M., Moloney, M., Hayes, N., Breathnach, D., … & Ozonyia, M. (2016). An examination of concepts of school-readiness among parents and educators in Ireland. Dublin: Department of Learner and Youth Affairs. https://www.dcya.gov.ie/viewdoc.asp?

Serede, A.V., & Mwoma, T. (2022). The teaching of language and pre-primary school learners’ reading readiness in Hamisi Sub-County, Vihiga County, Kenya. European Journal of Special Education Research, 8(2), 88-111. https://doi.org/10.46827/ejse.v8i2.4279

Shrivastava, S., Patil, V., Shelke, M., Anvikar, M., Mathur, A., & Phathak, A. 2019. Assessment of school-readiness of learners and factors associated with risk of inadequate school-readiness in Ujjain, India: An observational study. BMJ Paediatrics Open, 3(1). http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjpo-2019-000509.

South Africa. Department of Basic Education [DBE]. (2011). Curriculum and assessment policy statement Grade R-3 Sepedi Home Language. Pretoria: Government Printer.

South Africa. Department of Basic Education [DBE] (2012). National Policy about the Programme and Promotion Requirements of the National Curriculum Statement Grades R-12. Pretoria: Government Printers.

South Africa. Department of Basic Education [DBE]. (2012). The National Protocol on Assessment for Schools in the Grades R-12. Pretoria: Government Printers.

South Africa. Department of Basic Education [DBE]. (2015). Grade R Resource Kit. Pretoria: Government Printers.

South Africa. Department of Basic Education [DBE] (2019). Early Learning National Assessment. Pretoria: Government Printers.

Venter, L. (2022). A systems perspective on early learnerhood development education in South Africa. International Journal of Learner Care and Education Policy,167, 1-25. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40723-022-00100-5

Wangian, N. 2021. Maslow’s and Dependency Theorist perspectives for food for schooling school programme and school feeding programme. Academic paper, 2021. Munich: CRIN Verlag. 1-9. https://www.grin.com/document/1064697

Wangke, L., Joey, G., Masloman, N., & Lestari, H. (2021). Factors Related to School-readiness in Learners: A Cross-Sectional Analytic Study of Elementary School Learners in Manado. Open Access Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences, 23(9B),1387-1393. https://doi.org/10.3889/oamjms.2021.7294

Wolf, S. & McCoy, D.C. (2018). Household socioeconomic status and parental investments: Direct and indirect relations with school-readiness in Ghana. Learner Development, 90(1), 260-278. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12899.

WHO. (2020). Monitoring the SDGs, and sustainable development goals. Geneva: World Health Organisation 2020. [Online]. https://apps.who.int/iris/rest/bitstreams/1277753/retrieve

Yzel, M. (2017). Teachers’ perceptions of the implementation of school-readiness assessment instrument. Master’s Dissertation. University of Pretoria, Pretoria. http://hdl.handle.net/2263/62909