Special Report: Preparatory Schools

Make your child’s journey from early schooling to secondary school as easy as possible with this guide to preparatory schools.

Enrolling your child in a preparatory school may provide them with a happy, balanced and positive start to their education. The right prep school will open the door to a progressive, stimulating and exciting journey into the wider world of life, culture and knowledge.

Preparatory schooling may also help your child move more comfortably into primary and secondary school. Prep schools — the primary (Kindergarten to Year 6) section of a Kindergarten to Year 12 school, which sometimes includes a pre-prep or early-learning level — are increasing in popularity as both parents and students discover the benefits of an easy transition between different school environments.

The right prep school will offer your child a uniquely supportive learning environment aimed at giving them a well-rounded education focused on preparing them for secondary school life and beyond. This will teach the students how to think for themselves, how to create, how to problem-solve and how to communicate. It will also offer your child all kinds of opportunities to explore and develop — everything from sport to music, mathematics to art. Prep school aims to develop your child’s intellectual curiosity while also encouraging their individual talents.

It’s the philosophy of prep schools to target the academic and holistic development of the student on all levels — socially, morally, academically and emotionally. This is very important to the early development of children. During their primary school years, children develop their intellect, personality and values, which influence the later stages of their lives. Prep schools recognise this critical stage in children’s early development through their curriculum, and programs actively encourage preparation for the years ahead by allowing students to experience and appreciate a wide variety of learning styles.

In addition to those that are part of Kindergarten to Year 12 schools, there are also a few stand-alone primary prep schools for students from Preschool to Year 6. These engage and prepare the child comprehensively and rigorously for ongoing education, providing them with tangible foundations for future learning. They also help make valuable connections between what your child learns at home or in early childhood care and what they are learning at school.

Prep schools acknowledge that, by their very nature, they are there to provide a guarantee and a demonstrated ability to add value to a child’s education. This is achieved through the consistency of teaching staff, extensive co-curricular programs and conscious attention to matters of values, discipline and dress. Most preparatory schools aim to engage not only the child’s intellect, but also their heart, by developing a strong social conscience.

Often the transition from primary to high school can come as a bit of a shock for children. Primary school typically involves studying all year with one teacher and the same classmates. Classes often spend most of their time in one room with a regular daily schedule. While these circumstances are common in primary schooling, they differ in structure and environment from a typical high school situation. Prep schooling is an alternative to the standard primary situation, with a similar structure and environment pervading the entire school experience.

Another advantage to prep schooling is that the teacher-to-student ratio is generally better and the teachers get to know each child, ensuring they feel valued and supported. Smaller class sizes also enable the teacher to recognise what your child needs to flourish and to develop to their highest level.

There are various preparatory schools around Sydney and NSW that provide a well-rounded education focused on preparing your child for secondary school life and beyond.

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