Helping your little person prepare to start school
By Tanya Vaughan, Head of Junior School, Roseville College
To many, the notion of “kindergarten readiness” can be daunting. Don’t let it be. It is simply working alongside your child’s pre-school and future kindergarten to help little people prepare for the transition into “big school” in a way that best enables them to settle in, learn and thrive.
In my role as Head of Junior School at Roseville College, an Anglican school for girls in Kindergarten to Year 12 located on Sydney’s north shore, I am asked each year by parents for ideas to help them prepare their daughter for their first day at Roseville.
Having also served as Head of School for an independent, co-educational primary school, I know that these ideas are universal and apply to both boys and girls. Irrespective, it is imperative to have flexibility and acknowledge that children vary widely in their maturity at ages four and five; how should a four- to five-year-old think, behave and interact?
The following ideas, grouped into four categories to help us better grasp the notion of “kindergarten readiness”, can assist parents and carers to nurture skills and competencies in little people. Just remember, there may still be some skills they are working on when they start school.
The important thing is to be aware of each category and to incorporate aspects into your child’s play and activity time. This will help them view starting school positively, with a sense of excitement, and enable all members of your family to enjoy this milestone experience.
1 Social and emotional
Making friends and being congenial are at the front of many parents’ minds when wondering how their child will adjust to school life within a group of friends and peers. Your child should work towards:
Ideas for parents to help nurture social and emotional readiness:
2. Independence and personal responsibility
To most parents, this seems one of the more obvious categories; many are already “experienced” in working through topics such as separation anxiety, personal hygiene, manners and looking after their own (and others’) property.
Your child should be able to:
Ideas for parents to help nurture independence and personal responsibility:
3. Academic, curiosity and concept development
With a little conscious effort, parents find this category is the easiest and most fun to incorporate into everyday life — while driving in the car, cooking or making things, and even finding specific items or counting produce when shopping for groceries.
Your child should work towards:
Ideas for parents to help nurture academic, curiosity and concept development:
In a country like Australia, and a coastal city like Sydney, it is crucial parents consider water survival and swimming among their child’s physical competencies when starting school. Likewise, simple life-skill competencies such as how to hold pencils or scissors, how to use a tap or zipper, or even looking left and right at a crossing all amount to more confidence as a child embarks on their educational journey at school.
Your child should be able to:
Ideas for parents to help nurture physical readiness:
It is not a school’s expectation that each item be ticked off by the time a child starts school. However, it is important that children have an awareness of what they are working towards and that they have a willing attitude when it comes to learning and improving alongside their peers. If you have any concerns, speak with your pre-school coordinator and/or your child’s future kindergarten to ensure appropriate steps are put in place to support and encourage children who need it.