For many parents the decision on the right time to start their child at school is difficult. This is particularly common for parents of children born in the early months of the year (January to June) – as the child will either be one of the youngest or oldest students in the grade. Having recently made this decision for my daughter (born in March) I was fortunate to have experience as a primary school teacher to know what would be expected of my child once she started school – and if she was ready. I wanted to share some of my experience with other parents who may be struggling with this decision. Firstly it’s important to look at what the new environment of school will look like for your child. Unlike childcare settings schools will have a lot more transitions and movement of students. For example meeting at lines, walking to other classrooms for subjects, moving to areas for recess and lunch breaks. Within the classroom there will be periods of sitting and simply listening to lessons. These are made short and as engaging as possible – usually broken up with hands on activities. However if your child is unable to sit still even for a few moments, they may struggle with these whole class lesson periods. In saying this, most kindergarten students are quite wriggly for the first semester so don’t worry if they are still learning to do this – as long as they are beginning to do this. Another large component of school is using pencils, writing and sitting down activities. From experience, more girls are naturally drawn to these types of activities, even in childcare settings. However if your child is completely uninterested in drawing, cutting out paper, writing or activities that require sitting and using their fine-motor skills you may need to give them some practice before school. There are some great school-readiness classes that children can attend the year before school (see links below for companies that provide these). They will usually run for 30 – 40 minutes and focus on letters and numbers. These types of classes are a great way to ease your child into the skills required for school. It will also make it obvious if your child is really not ready and you can give them another year to develop before starting school. I have seen some early childhood educators give some inaccurate information to parents about “big school” and what the expectations are. It’s important to realise teachers in kindergarten will help children a lot – so there is no need for parents to worry if their child still learning to look after their own belongings – or is a bit shy – (Shyness is a common and false red flag given that children are not ready for big school). Kindergarten students are not expected to start school and have everything down pat. They are starting a huge learning curve and the kindergarten teachers are prepared for this. In a nutshell I would advise the below is ticked before starting your child at school:

*Your child can seperate from you (although tears are common for the first weeks of kindergarten for some children- as long as they can calm down after a short period once the parent has left).

*Your child can sit for at least five minutes and listen to a story or an explanation of something like a craft activity.

*Your child mostly listens to instructions by educators (All children fail to do this at times – they are kids!).

*Your child can sit and participate in table activities such as drawing, writing letters, cutting and pasting activities.

*Your child can go the toilet on their own.

If you have any questions or need some further advise please feel free to message me on my contact page. Evie Sarah x