Transition tips for Kindergarten

Transition tips for Kindergarten

Young Academics' early childhood educators share transition tips for the kindergarten class of 2022


-          A starting school checklist for a smooth start to 'big school' -


While COVID fears and RA-test supplies are dominating talk about starting kindergarten this year, the fundamentals for a successful transition from pre-school to 'big school' remain, and it's normal for children – and their parents – to feel anxious about the move.


To help make the first day fuss-free, the professional educators from Young Academics have shared their top tips, including what to practise, the most important social skills, and school readiness red flags to help parents for this year's kindergarten cohort.  


"The key to a smooth transition is in preparation and a positive attitude," says Young Academics Centre Manager, Daniella Filipovic, "and there's still time to do a few key things to make school easier for your child on day one. Remember, while these might sound like super simple steps, familiarity is a friend when it comes to starting school."


Young Academics' top tips for a successful start to school

"Practise opening and closing their lunch box, and any food storage containers – including their drink bottle – and show them how to re-fill it. Teach them to write and recognise their own name to help locate their possessions when all the hats end up in a pile together; check that they're on top of their toilet hygiene and handwashing – you can visit public bathrooms so they can practise in a different environment; talk about taking turns and putting your hand up to talk; and encourage them to wear their uniform and any new school shoes or hats for a couple of days at home to get used to them," says Daniella.


"In the few days before school, it's a good idea to do a dry run for the school routine – go to bed at a sensible hour, wake up at the time you will need to for school and pack your child's lunch box for the day. Plan for them to eat at similar times to school morning tea and lunch breaks so they can get used to portion planning…and avoid eating everything by mid-morning and spending their lunch break starving!"






·         Practise using the toilet and washing hands without help

·         Wear uniform, school shoes and hat around the house

·         Pack a school lunch box to use for the days before school & stick to school mealtimes

·         Practise opening and closing lunchbox, drink bottle & storage containers

·         Learn to re-fill drink bottle independently

·         Discuss the drop-off and pick-up procedure so they know what (and who) to expect

·         Talk positively about meeting new people, trying new things & how to ask questions

·         Talk about making mistakes and losing at games – remind them that it's ok

·         Stick to a routine for waking up, snack time, lunch and bedtime in the days before school

·         Acknowledge any anxious feelings and praise them for sharing their feelings


For parents of the kindergarten class of 2023, there's plenty of time to prepare. As soon as you've landed on the primary school of your choice, start talking to your child about it whenever you walk or drive past, visit any Open Days, school fairs or orientation activities, ask around at pre-school or the local community to connect with peers starting at the same time, and communicate with your child's pre-school educators to confirm their school readiness, or identify any areas of concern.


"I recommend enrolling four-year-olds in a pre-school programme at least two to three days each week to get them used to the routine and advise parents to ensure they attend consistently – just like they will need to at school," says Luanna Penn-Gray, Centre Manager at Young Academics.


How can you tell whether your child is ready to attend school?

Luanna says the key signs a child is ready to start school include recognising their name, confidently using language to communicate their needs and wants, the ability to make friends or invite themselves to join in with a play situation and the independence to feed themselves and go to the toilet without assistance.  


According to Daniella, children who are ready for school are generally comfortable separating from their parent (of course first day jitters are completely normal), are responsible enough to care for their own possessions, can regulate their emotions and are able to negotiate resources and their learning environment with their peers.


Are there any benefits in 'holding children back' for children eligible to start school a year later?

The educators at Young Academics agree that there's no hard and fast answer here, since age is not the sole factor in determining whether a child is ready to transition to kindergarten.

However, they do agree that overcoming separation anxiety, independent feeding, dressing and toileting, and recognising their own name and belongings are all more important determinants of school readiness than age alone.

"Some children do benefit from an additional year at pre-school to mature socially and emotionally and further develop their confidence and independence in a play-based setting with more educator support before making the move," explains Luanna. "Confidence is key for a smooth transition to school, as children with stronger social skills find it easier to develop new friendships, to explore new environments and to participate in new challenges and learning," she says.


What are the warning signs a child may not be ready to start school?

"If a child is still having difficulty separating at pre-school drop-off or having emotional outbursts when confronted with change, it may be a sign starting school will be difficult," advises Daniella. "Other red flags include limited language skills, a lack of eye contact, having difficulty sharing with peers, struggling with following instructions, not being fully toilet trained or becoming easily overwhelmed by noise or other children."


Do children need to know skills such as the alphabet, writing or counting before they start school?

"As important as these skills are, I feel a child's social and emotional readiness to start kindergarten are more important," says Daniella. "As a pre-cursor to writing letters and numbers, children should have age-appropriate fine motor skills, which are often developed through art, craft and building activities at home or at pre-school."


"Self-help and social skills are the key things to prioritise to help children have the confidence to engage in a range of learning experiences. Rather than worrying about their child's writing, reading or counting skills, parents should focus instead on whether their child can use expressive language, share their ideas, join in a group discussion and ask questions, although it's definitely worth teaching your child to recognise and write their own name so they can locate their belongings and label their work," suggests Luanna.


What are the key social skills which will help with a smooth transition to school?

According to Young Academics' Centre Managers, the following are the most critical social skills to help with a smooth start to school:


·         Ability to following instructions

·         A developed attention span

·         Patiently sitting down for group-time activities 

·         Confidently communicate with peers

·         Regulating behaviour (not throwing tantrums)

·         Ability to stand and talk in front of peers – such as 'show and tell'

·         Willingness to approach and engage in play with others

·         Using language skills to invite themselves to play

·         Adapting to change

If parents are unsure about their child's school readiness (for potential 2023 starters), they should chat to their pre-school educator, Centre Manager, GP or the Kindergarten Coordinator at their future primary school.



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