What you need to know to start preparing your child for ‘Foundation’ (Prep)

Thinking about preparing for your child’s move from kindergarten to primary school, or “big school” as so many kinder children call it, can be a bit overwhelming. While there are many things to consider, some of the main concerns parents have are how far ahead to start planning and how to make a smooth transition? Well worry not, as this article will answer both those questions and more.

How old does my child have to be to start primary school?

In Victoria, the Department of Education and Training regulations state that, in order for a child to start ‘Foundation’(formerly ‘Prep’), they must have turned five years old by the 30th of April of that year at the latest and that every child must be at primary school in the year they turn six years old. Therefore, if your child was born in the first four months of the year you have the option of delaying the start of school until the year they turn six.

Each child’s development can vary significantly, so it’s important to make a time to talk with your child’s kindergarten teacher about school readiness. Find out how they think your child is progressing. Are they ready for Foundation in all aspects of their development?

In particular, are they socially and emotionally ready for their first year of primary school? Are their communication and language skills developed sufficiently so they can navigate the school classroom and curriculum? Your child’s kindergarten teacher will provide you with advice on your child’s development and school readiness to help you make the best decision.

How can I better prepare my child for primary school?

Once you have made the decision for your child to start primary school, there are some things you can do at home with your child during their final year of kindergarten in preparation for the big change:

1. Encourage your child to ask questions about going to school.

What is it going to be like?

How will it be different to kindergarten?

When does school start?

Are any of my friends from kindergarten going to be there?

2. Encourage your child to do things on their own, or at least to give it a try. Things such as:

dressing,

going to the toilet,

washing their hands,

unwrapping their food, and:

opening and closing their drink bottle.

By encouraging independence in these areas, it will make your child’s transition to primary school that much easier while also building their confidence.

3. Keep your child in the conversion, to feel ownership towards the final decision, choosing the right school for your child is a big decision.

School’s start taking enrolments for the following year from as early as February. Check out the possible primary schools in your area, then ring and organise a tour. If you can, take your child with you and ask them for their opinion too. This also allows your child to get a better idea of what exactly is primary school, what it looks like and how it feels.

4. Prepare for the transition.

Once you’ve chosen which school your child be attending, make sure to keep up to date with any relevant meetings or school-transition days. Later in the year, your child will be invited to attend an orientation day, where they will meet their teacher and classmates for the following year. Make note of the date and time for this day as it is particularly important that your child attends.

Finally, don’t forget to ask the school what time your child starts on the first day and where to take them. The first day of school can be an emotional roller-coaster for both you and your child!

Plan a year ahead

Simply put, the year before your child starts primary school is a good time to start planning for Foundation. During this year, begin to focus on and talk as a family about the different aspects of school life with your child.

Reach out to your child’s kindergarten teacher during their last year of kindergarten to clarify any questions you might have. Contact the primary schools you’re interested in so you can participate in their open days and any other important events. To make the transition smoother, discuss it with your child all throughout their final year of kindergarten and most important keep them involved in the process!

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