Preschoolers join school peers at Easter hat parades

Students at Oak Flats and Koonawarra public school preschools enjoyed participating in Easter hat parades this week. Helen Gregory reports.

A preschool student wearing an Easter hat. A preschool student wearing an Easter hat.
Image: Students at Oak Flats Public School Preschool enjoyed the Easter hat parade.

Little learners attending two Illawarra public school preschools have joined their older peers to showcase their creativity to the community in Easter hat parades.

At Oak Flats Public School Preschool, the children's colourful creations were born out of a special collaboration.

Principal Jodi Niedermayer said the children attending the on-site preschool were paired at the start of the year with buddies in years five and six to participate in activities.

The preschoolers and their buddies worked together using hats, cardboard and craft supplies in the lead up to the parade.

“Our preschoolers led the design process and their buddies were there to help bring their ideas to reality, mostly to help with the sticky tape and glue,” Ms Niedermayer said.

“This takes a lot of pressure off our families and the creations are genuinely theirs which creates a real sense of ownership. Our students are always so proud of their designs.”

The preschoolers held hands or walked together with their buddies during the parade, which Ms Niedermayer said helped ease any nerves.

Each grade – as well as the preschoolers – also performed a song.

Ms Niedermayer said the preschoolers and their families were a valued part of the school community and involved in a range of events to build a sense of belonging.

“Having a preschool as part of our school means our preschool children become really familiar and comfortable with a school environment,” she said.

“In addition to our buddy program, they visit our library each week, interact regularly with staff and join in with a range of activities, all of which helps support a smooth and positive transition to kindergarten.”

At Koonawarra Public School Preschool, children joined the primary school students at the parade, before returning to the preschool for a picnic lunch and Easter egg hunt.

Principal Amanda Kowalczyk said the event was historically only for students in Kindergarten to Year 2, but had become a whole school event in recent years.

“Excitingly, teachers were able to organise for the Easter Bunny to take time out of his busy schedule to drop by and leave some surprises behind for all our kids - and perhaps some of the well-behaved staff members too,” Ms Kowalczyk said.

She said the preschoolers participated in activities with the rest of the school throughout the year, including its welcome barbecue, ceremonies held twice a term in the yarning circle to celebrate shared achievements, the book parade, library lessons, sport incursions, Harmony Day and Healthy Harold visits.

“Our preschoolers are our littlest learners here at Koonawarra and we are in such a blessed position to be able to provide them with a safe, supported and engaging start to their ‘big school’ journey,” she said.

“Belonging is built through inclusion, and our preschoolers know they belong from day one. Their voice is heard just as loud as any other student from K-6.

“That year before Kindy is such a pivotal one, it sets these little ones up for success. Because they are part of the school the transition into Kindy is much more seamless - less tears!”

Onsite public preschools ensure schools are ready for children when they start Kindergarten and make the transition to school as seamless as possible for children, families and teachers.

The NSW Government announced last month a further 100 public preschools will be built on public primary school sites by 2027.

Three preschool students standing together on a balcony posing for a photo. Three preschool students standing together on a balcony posing for a photo.
Image: Preschool students posing for a photo at Oak Flats Public School's Easter hat parade.
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