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Should they be able to write their name? Know their sight words? Hold a pencil? There is so much conflicting advice about what your child should be able to do before they start prep that it is hard to know where to turn and what to believe.
However, while it is tempting to focus on the educational skills you think your preppie should have before starting school, some experts say it is more important to consider how they will settle in emotionally. For this reason, Goodstart Early Learning centres do not have blanket milestones for achievement. Instead, says Kerry Nebauer, one of its early childhood teachers from its centre in Brinsmead, it aims to ensure children are ready to start school feeling confident and independent.
Ms Nebauer says ensuring children are ready for school emotionally and physically is essential for a smooth transition. “The move from childcare to school can be a daunting experience and it’s important that every child has the best possible chance of adjusting successfully,” Ms Nebauer said.
She works with her children to teach them how to get a drink of water, put their bags away and where to put their hats. She says parents should help their preppies learn to be independent in this regard. “It’s all about encouraging the parents to let the children take control and show they have the skills to help them be more independent,” Ms Nebauer said.
“I think the biggest adjustment that the children will experience is the move away from play-based learning at childcare to a school system which is regimented and structured. Teaching the children how to listen, how to sit still and what rules they will have to follow are all important skills.
“I don’t want them to get to school and not how to get a drink of water or ask a question,” Ms Nebauer said. She added that helping to prepare the children for school in this way means there will be “less anxiety and concern”.
Goodstart shared its tips for parents of children starting school:
Queensland government also offers some advice on helping to support your child’s learning once they have started school:
It is important to remember that all children are different and will start school with different skill sets. Don’t be tempted to compare your child with their peers. You’ll be amazed at how far they will come in their first year of school – relax and enjoy.
Getting to know the school before your child starts can really help the process. Read our article on How to get the most out of school open days here. If you are still deciding on a school for your child, visit our Education Guide.