The first steps to School are earlier than you think

Sponsored post for The NSW Department of Education

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Do you have a little one starting big School next year? I know, how did it happen? They were JUST born and now here you are staring down the prospect of BIG school in just a matter of months. Sheesh.

I’ve had two girls start School now and have many tears and lessons along the way. But when I look at how “ready” they were, I know that a lot of that had to do with the time that was put in before we even started walking into Primary School, it was the time spent for the year or so at Preschool.

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When we moved down here one of the first things we did was enrol Daise into Preschool. She was 3 and SO ready after many years going to “school” (daycare) and while I was anxious about her starting somewhere new, she absolutely LOVED her time at our local Preschool where she went for 3 days a week the year before she started Primary school. Being a February baby, even though she started the school year as a 4 year old, she was more than ready to tackle the structure and learning that was already such a part of her social life.

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Little Harps was the same. Although with her Birthday being in October, by the time she started Primary she had a good 9 months on her sister and was ready. Did I mention READY? She had that extra time going to Preschool each week and while each and every drop off involved tears or some anxiety, she made really great friends. She became self motivated to learn, push herself, be confident, be a leader to the other younger kids and she really loved her time there. In fact, I often hear her say that she wishes she could go back to Preschool!

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For us the benefits were plenty and I really think it helped them before they started in Kinder at “big school”. The girls got to understand a “structure” to their day. The routine of getting ready, getting to school and hanging up their bag, putting their lunch here and their drink bottle there, being responsible for “their stuff” made the transition the next year not such a big deal. There was a focus on learning, but it wasn’t a formal classroom , if they wanted to focus on writing or numbers, they could, through play. Their health was good (immunisations and eye/hearing tests were routinely done) and they learnt about packing lunches and healthy eating habits. I love the even playing field of somewhere like Preschool too: every kid regardless of where they come from, or who their family is made up, comes and plays, it’s a great lesson in society in action.

The teachers and director at the school knew each kid, their strengths which they encouraged and their weaknesses which they respected and nurtured. I could confidently leave them knowing that they were having a good time. Learning, playing, socialising.

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Take me back to those days when the problems that they had seemed so BIG, when in fact, were a walk in the park!

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I really do think that the hard yards that were put in that year before school paid off when we entered the formal Public School education system and it wasn’t SUCH a shock to the system when it came to being focused and “on” for 5 days a week. Sure we were all still exhausted and a little frazzled from filling out all those forms and paperwork, we got there.

The benefits of 600 hours a year (15 a week) for a kid the year before School, I believe anyway, sets the kids up so well.

The NSW Department of Education has also recently committed to the future development and growth of our children by implementing a funding boost of $115million into the early education sector. This funding boost will allow early childhood education to be more affordable for families.

You can find out more here.

What was your experience with Preschool?
Did you find it a positive experience for your kids?
How do you think it helped set them up for a positive transition to Big School?

Comments

  1. Clancy has been doing e-Kindy this year and boy has he loved it. He goes over to the School Room 3 days a week (and just quietly I think I may well love it more…. 3 days). Tom is off to Boarding School next year and it really does only feel like he started Prep, back then it feels like it is all going to drag on forever but the time really does fly, everyone is right.

  2. My boy is about to finish kindy (they do. 5-day fortnight up here). He started school in Dubai (British system where they start at 4, or even 3) and then had to go back to preschool in Brissie. He’s loved preschool but is sooooooo ready for school now!

  3. My girls both started at our local community run pre-school at the age of 3. They first started off doing 2 days per week then progressed to 3 days per week from the age of 4, in preparation for starting “big school”. It was a WONDERFUL experience for my girls and I agree that it set some great foundations for starting school, it definitely made the transition easier.

    My sister’s children are ready to do this, HOWEVER, they have been told that the Government have REMOVED funding for 3 year old pre-schoolers & so they have to wait until they’re 4 to start. What is with that??? Both my kids were so ready for pre-school at the age of 3!

    • Hi Rachael,
      There certainly are plus and minus points to the new funding system. It’s not ideal, you really want children building relationships within your preferred early childhood setting, but if she has access in your area 3 yr old preschool programs have been disadvantaged by the change in funding rules but long daycare programs fall under a different set of funding rules. Many long daycare providers do run focused preschool programs for this age group and above so for a motivated parent are worth researching.

      Best Wishes
      Belinda

    • Oh so were mine! Absolutely. What a shame.

  4. My big girl starts high school in February,. It doesn’t seem like five minutes since she started primary school. It’s been amazing to what her grown and learn and now I’m staring down the barrel of high school. How on earth did that happen

  5. As an early years educator, it means so much to read this Beth! Our job is often looked down upon and not many people see the “behind the scenes” of our work. The children are definitely learning, stretching their minds, challenging themselves and building that all important confidence. I think this initiative is amazing, not only for the children but also for the teachers. If nothing else, I think this will communicate that we do have a “proper job” (Yes, that was said to me by a high flying parent yesterday….) and are passionate about encouraging the potential of all of the beautiful children in our care.
    So lovely to see your girls had such a positive pre-school experience!

  6. As a fostermum for 20 years my experience of preschool is best summed up as … the good, the bad & the ugly. I discovered that what works for one child won’t work for another. The director that loved my first little “wild child” boy had absolutely no time for my second one. I did find that when you have found the right place it can be a great experience for your child & help them prepare for the routine of a school day & the self help skills they will need. They learn about friends & sharing & taking turns & waiting in line & listening & dealing with your own food, jumper, undies. Preschool can be brilliant

    • Much like everything in childhood…I have learnt that myself with my girls…what works for one not the other. Agree that when it works it can be SO good. Thanks for sharing Heidi x

  7. Here kids starting with school at 2,5 years daily from 8.30 am until 4 pm only Wednesday from 8.30 am until 12 . And that goes good .

  8. Its exciting times! My eldest is heading to school next year and had his first ‘transition’ day today and loved it. I personally can NOT WAIT for him to start! He cant either! Its going to be a loooong xmas hols hearing “‘how many more sleeps until I start school?!” And our (just) 3yr old will start pre-kinder next year and very excited about that too. Only 4 years until all 3 are all in primary! Then im sure I’ll blink and they will be driving a car. ?

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