Having your child put on a school uniform and wave goodbye to you to start Prep is a big deal. It’s as emotionally charged for you as it is for them, and sometimes neither of you are quite ready to start the exciting experience that is school.
Whether you’re coming from Pre-Prep, Kindergarten, Early Learning Centre or time at home, there are a few things you can do to prepare both yourself and your child for the leap into Prep.
“Given school is so exciting and the days are action-packed, changes in behaviour are common. As educators, we know that all behaviour has meaning, so we monitor this closely.”
Kellie Morgan, Director of Early Learning and Junior Years
The first thing, reinforced by specialists, teachers and many schools alike, is to let your child embrace everything their first term of Prep brings, without too many additional scheduled activities. Prep is a lively time for our little ones and the full and exciting week at school is often enough. Melbourne Girls Grammar Director of Junior Years and Early Learning, Kellie Morgan, likens it to starting a new job.
“Think about a time when you’ve started a new job, or you’re in a different environment, and you’re working really hard to get used to everything, even if it is a job you have done for many years – you are trying to remember new people and their names and new routines. As adults, we refer to this as cognitive overload. We go home exhausted! It is similar for our children. There’s so many fun and exciting new experiences taking place, they usually won’t need additional tasks to undertake outside of school.”
Something that you might want to consider before your child starts school, is how you’ll prepare as a family to ensure that your child comes first for a few weeks. That may mean a couple of days a week where you pick them up on time instead of sending them to after school care or take them straight to school instead of before school care. It may be a juggle to rearrange your schedule, but for your child just starting out at school, a couple of days can make a huge difference to their experience. Working these things out ahead of time is helpful. Think of it as an opportunity for you to make the most of the time with your child while they’re at this wonderful age.
Sometimes we see unexpected changes in behaviour. After a terrific start to the term, you might notice your child is not as positive about going to school each day, or may decide that going back to visit their favourite educator at Kindergarten is a better option. This is very normal.
“Given school is so exciting and the days are action-packed, changes in behaviour are common. As educators, we know that all behaviour has meaning, so we monitor this closely. Sometimes these changes can be signs that the children are tired. This is normal for a child who has such a full and busy day, and then needs to head off to karate or swimming each afternoon,” said Kellie Morgan.
With this in mind, we recommend that you take time to reflect on how busy your child is. Most people will say that their child is much busier now than they ever were at the same age. Giving your child the time to play, imaginatively, physically and socially will prepare them for school in the best possible way.
Before they learn to read and write, they need to learn to talk and listen. Ensuring that your child gets the opportunity to be outside climbing and discovering, inside imagining and creating, and everyday conversing, talking and listening, is the most effective way to prepare them for school.
Wondering if your child is ready for Prep?