Setting early learners up for success at school

Transition to school initiatives and collaborative partnerships with children, families and schools are key for children embarking on their next stage of learning.

A child smiling at the camera. A child smiling at the camera.
Image: Early learners at Goodstart Bathurst are directly involved in preparing for school.

Centre Director Emma Kentwell and her team are strong advocates for having dedicated transition to school programs for children. The team have seen the impact these programs can have on children’s social and emotional development, helping early learners build the foundations and confidence they need to reach their potential in formal schooling and beyond.

Located on Wiradjuri Country, Goodstart Bathurst uses a range of practices to ensure every child is prepared for this important transition, including the Transition to School Digital Statement, visits for the preschoolers to their chosen school, and engaging families, local schools and professionals through a school readiness program. The service also uses a play-based learning program called the ‘Big School Shed’.

Preparing for school

Emma says children flourish socially and emotionally when they are directly involved in preparing for school.

“Children’s voices lead our ‘Big School Shed’ program, which incorporates their conceptual knowledge of ‘big school’ and follows an interest-based curriculum,” shared Emma. “We use an external space and transform it into a small group learning area to promote sustained, shared thinking with peers and key educators.”

“We ask the children what they would like to learn more about so they can continue to evolve together as passionate learners. Numbers, letters, writing and drawing were a few suggestions from children this year.”

This program explores different aspects of learning and educators build strong and meaningful relationships with the children. These relationships, together with insights gathered through the ‘Big School Shed’ program, help educators understand how to better support successful transitions to school and prepare detailed Transition to School Statements.

Transition to school

The Transition to School Digital Statement documents a child’s strengths, interests and approaches to learning and is an important tool that supports early learners make a positive transition to primary school. Sharing the statements with a child’s future school allows Kindergarten teachers to plan for each child and support continuity of learning.

Goodstart Bathurst Educational Leader Hayley Toohey mentioned transitions are the collective responsibility of early childhood education and care services, schools and families and that collaboration is key.

“Each year we hold a school readiness evening supported by a panel of professionals from a range of public and Catholic primary schools, including a high school teacher, school counsellor and family representatives,” Hayley said.

Involving families

Inviting schools to speak with families about school readiness allows parents and carers to develop relationships with school staff well before their child begins school, Hayley shared. Families are also more confident about their child’s transition when they are informed about the supports available to them.

The Goodstart Bathurst team is passionate about ensuring children who attend their service develop a lifelong love for learning. As part of their assessment and planning cycle, the service’s transition to school programs are ever evolving to suit each child and their surrounding community.

Children sitting on the floor inside an early childhood education centre watching an educator write on a white board. Children sitting on the floor inside an early childhood education centre watching an educator write on a white board.
Image: Goodstart Bathurst’s Big School Shed program prepares children for the next stage of their learning journey.

Practical tips

Practical tips for services to support a positive transition to school:

  • Utilise the Transition to School Digital Statement to document important information about children in the year before Kindergarten to help schools set children up for success.
  • Build connections with schools in your area, identify ways to get involved with the community and work together to best support transitions for children and their families.
  • Read stories about starting school.
  • Inviting school students to visit the service and talk about what school is like.
  • Including school props such as uniforms, bags, lunch boxes in dramatic play areas.
  • Support children to develop their self-help and social skills through routine activities such as mealtimes.
  • Provide a variety of literacy items such as reading and writing materials.
  • Engage with families to understand how your service can support them.
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