Who is more anxious in today’s world about a child starting school – the parent or the child? We tend to think that in the current context of child care, early learning experiences, grandparents as carers, co-parenting, shared parenting et cetera, that many children are actually pretty comfortable with the notion of going to school and leaving their parent/s. After all, for many, they’ve already been doing it for most of their lives!
This article “How to gently prepare your child for prep” from The Conversation is part of a series about school transitions. It examines the latest research and provides some tips and techniques to help you with the first stage of school, Foundation* at age 5.
It should be noted that the article states ‘research suggests few schools have meaningful contact with parents, which is especially important at times of transition, especially from kindergarten to school.’ The research cited is a link to a US study; our experience of schools in all sectors in Australia would be that the norm here is for transition experiences to happen as a matter of course, often in early Term 4 of the year prior to commencement.
Schools understand that starting school is easier for you, and your child, if you have a practice run first. Some transition programs range from simple morning visits through to extended days over a week long period. Most schools also help parents to start school by offering transition experiences like Parent Information sessions, first day ‘welcome’ morning tea or meet and greet opportunities, and often a mid Term 1 casual community gathering.
Our advice to any parent is simply this – remember, it is your child’s school journey over the next 13 years, not yours. Let them enjoy it, embrace it and experience it. Try to leave your memories, perceptions and expectations of your own lived school experience at the school yard gate. Schools today are generally pretty good places with educators and staff who want to do the right thing by you and your child. So take a deep breath, let go, and trust that all will be okay!
* Or Prep/Kinder/Reception – whatever your State system happens to call it! Foundation is the term used in the National Curriculum to refer to a child’s first year of school.