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Transitioning to School: Everything You Need to Know

Starting school is a significant event in the life of children and their families, as a child’s first steps through the school gates are emotional and momentous.

Photo: Engadine West Public School
Starting 'Big School' is an exciting new adventure for preschoolers. Photo: Engadine West Public School

The Start of a New Chapter

We know that strong, collaborative relationships and information sharing between families, early childhood services and schools help support a child’s successful transition to school.

Being ready for school includes having resilience, being able to problem solve & having really good language skills. Being ready for school does not mean an ability to read & write and speak five languages!

Research supports the notion that the absolute best thing for children to do is play. Unstructured, incidental playing. Playing outside, playing with trucks, playing with dolls, playing with other kids, playing in the sandpit and having the freedom to explore their world without expectations!

What is ‘School Readiness’?

‘School readiness’ is the development of knowledge, skills and behaviours that enable children to participate and succeed in school. These are the foundations for lifelong learning.

School readiness is about the development of the whole child – their social and emotional skills, physical skills, communication skills and cognitive skills. Children cannot thrive at school if they haven’t developed the skills to manage things like getting along with other children, following instructions, and communicating their needs.

Research shows that children who start school when developmentally ready to learn tend to do better in school – and it sets them up for further success later in life.

How do I know if my child is ready for Kindergarten?

  • Social skills: Being able to get along with other children, demonstrate basic manners, assert themselves, and being able to play independently as well as with other children.

  • Emotional maturity: Being able to manage their emotions, cope with minimal adult contact in large groups, focus on tasks, follow directions and instructions from teachers, cope with the stress of the new school environment, and understand the rules.

  • Language skills: Being able to talk and listen to adults and other children, speak clearly, communicate needs, understand stories, and begin to identify some letters and sounds.

  • Cognitive Skills: Basic number sense, basic thinking skills, being able to wait and take turns.

  • Physical health and coordination: Basic health, fine motor skills (such as being able to grip a pencil and turn pages in a book) and physical coordination (being able to run, jump, climb, and play ball).

  • Independence: Basic skills to manage their needs without adult supervision, such as going to the toilet, wiping their own bottoms, engaging in positive hygiene practices, dressing, unwrapping their lunch and managing their belongings.

How to prepare for 'Big School'

  • Arrange play dates with children from the same school – fantastic for building social skills

  • Encourage self-help skills (eg. Feeding & dressing themselves) to promote a sense of independence

  • Play games with your child – great for turn-taking and learning how to cope with not winning!

  • Enjoy books together – especially ones with lots of sounds, pictures and textures. While your child is not expected to read or write, reading to your child promotes a love for literacy and learning!

  • Encourage conversation – ask about your child’s day, their friends, their feelings… anything you want! Listen to them as they express their thoughts and feelings.

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