Kindergarten orientation and transition

Starting school is a big event for everyone. Find out about your school's orientation and transition programs so you can make it the best start.

Updated 11:00 am 15 July 2021

A positive start to school is important and relies on everyone working together to make it happen – family, community, early childhood education service and the school team.

Kindergarten orientation and transition to school should be flexible and responsive to COVID-19 advice.

The following guidance has been developed to support schools plan orientation visits for students entering Kindergarten in 2022. These guidelines complement the positive transition strategies that schools already have in place and will vary across the state in response to local area restrictions and government advice. A variety of scenarios are addressed for you to apply to your local context.

Where current health restrictions will impact on a school’s planned orientation visits, it is recommended that they be delayed until later in Term 3 or early Term 4.

Kindergarten orientation

An orientation visit helps children and families become familiar with the school. It comprises one or two visits to the school and provides information for children and families.

Schools will need to ensure that they follow current department advice around external visitors to school sites when planning their orientation approach.

Students in attendance with parents and carers

For orientation visits to take place within the school, the following requirements must be in place:

  • Ensure all students attending the orientation have a completed enrolment form, which has been reviewed by the school.

  • Undertake a risk assessment for any student with additional learning, health care or behavioural needs.

  • Confirm that all attendees including parents and carers, students and staff are well and free of any COVID-19 symptoms.

  • Ensure each parent and carer:

  • Maintains physical distancing

  • Signs the external visitors form or checks in using a QR code

  • Follows the relevant advice for their location including wearing a mask if required. See the Advice for families for more information.

  • Maintain a record of names and contact details for all attendees for at least 28 days after the event. This record must only be used for the purposes of contact tracing for COVID-19 infections and stored confidentially and securely. If possible, create and maintain a record of the seating plan to support contact tracing.

  • Parents and carers must also sign in using the Service NSW QR codes.

  • Clearly designate a meeting place for parents and carers ensuring that physical distancing measures are in place.

  • For information sessions for parents and carers ensure that sanitiser and masks are available. Consider seating spacing, room ventilation, group size and duration of session. Consider limiting the number of adults per student.

  • Provide parents and carers who choose not to attend information sessions an alternative option to receive information. Consider providing information sessions as a combined online and face to face approach.

  • Adopt and promote good hand hygiene practices and make sure that bathrooms are well stocked with hand soap and paper towels or hand dryers, and have hand sanitiser at key points around the venue such as entry and exit points.

  • Implement cleaning protocols for any shared items used during the orientation.

  • Wipe down high-touch areas after orientation with detergent followed by disinfectant, including any pens used to sign in.

Students in attendance without parents and carers

For orientation visits to take place within the school, the following requirements must be in place:

  • Ensure all students attending the orientation have a completed enrolment form, which has been reviewed by the school.

  • Develop a risk assessment for any student with additional learning, health care or behavioural needs.

  • Confirm with parents and carers that all students are well and free of any flu-like symptoms.

  • Allow parents and carers to enter the school site and report to a designated drop-off and collection zone.

  • Parents and carers should not remain on site for longer than 10 minutes.

  • Reduce crowding where possible and promote physical distancing with markers on the floor in areas where people are asked to queue.

  • Start classroom orientation visits after the regular school start time to avoid congestion and to avoid interaction between students attending the visit and current students.

  • Stagger start times to limit the number of people on site and to prevent queueing.

  • Ensure each parent and carer:

  • Maintains physical distancing.

  • Signs the external visitors form or checks in using a QR code.

  • Follows the relevant advice for their location including wearing a mask if required. See the Advice for families for more information.

  • Maintain a record of names and contact details for all students for at least 28 days after the event. This record must only be used for the purposes of contact tracing for COVID-19 infections and stored confidentially and securely. If possible, create and maintain a record of the seating plan to support contact tracing.

  • Adopt and promote good hand hygiene practices and make sure that bathrooms are well stocked with hand soap and paper towels or hand dryers and have hand sanitiser at key points around the venue such as entry and exit points.

  • Parents and carers should not be allowed access to areas outside of the designated drop-off and collection points and should leave promptly at the conclusion of the event.

  • Implement cleaning protocols for any shared items used during the orientation.

  • Wipe down high-touch areas after orientation, including any pens used to sign in.

  • Provide parent and carer information by connecting remotely.

Remote orientation without student or parents and carers attendance

When orientation visits are unable to take place within the school, the following should be considered:

  • Put processes in place to ensure all students attending in 2022 have a completed enrolment form, which is reviewed by the school prior to school commencement.

  • Engage with families to develop a risk assessment for any student with additional learning, health care or behavioural needs.

  • Share information that ensures students and their parents and carers feel informed and welcomed.

  • Provide parent and carer information by connecting remotely.

  • Provide families with safe ways to meet either the principal or Kindergarten teacher.

  • Find out if there are any children who might require a more targeted approach (for example students with additional needs) and offer single families or small groups of children an orientation visit, ensuring any current physical distancing rules are complied with. This could be planned later in the year.

  • When available, use Transition to School Statements completed by early childhood educators to learn more about each child’s strengths, interests and approaches to learning.

Students with additional learning needs

Students with disability and learning support needs may require additional support as part of a personalised transition program, including children without a confirmed diagnosis. Additional transition opportunities are available for these students.

  • Consider virtual or phone interviews for parents and carers of students with specific needs that the school needs to know more about.

  • Meetings with parents or carers and other key adults may be considered as an essential meeting and be held on-site.

  • All attending visitors, including parents and carers and staff from other sschools are to:

  • maintain physical distancing.

  • sign the external visitors form or check in using a QR code.

  • Follow the relevant advice for their location including wearing a mask if required. See the Advice for families for more information.

  • A planned orientation visit may be scheduled to support students to orient to the school, meet key staff members and support the development of individual learning plans.

  • In these cases, the number of visiting adults should be kept to one adult which may be the student’s primary teacher, School Learning Support Officer, School Services support (Itinerant teacher) or other essential health care worker.

  • The Learning and Wellbeing team play a role in liaising with schools regarding new students. Schools should ensure that they have enough information and resourcing to support these students as they transition next year.

Some ideas for school

Connect remotely

  • Create appropriate digital medium that is already successful in your school. Perhaps a closed Kindergarten dedicated social media page could be created.

  • Create a video or sound recording with messages from the Principal, executive and ES1 teachers. Distribute via email, social media, or other platforms.

  • Conduct live virtual school tours, sharing uniform information, canteen process, library.

  • Record podcasts, take photos or create social stories and share via email or post.

  • Get older students to record messages or short video clips to send to children and parents, sharing their experiences starting school. Buddy systems can also be carried out in the same way, with older students supporting their ‘buddy’ via digital mediums.

  • Teacher reading stories from the Kindergarten classroom environment, and filming the environment to create some familiarity.

  • Schedule a live event for a Q and A forum specifically for students transitioning, encourage parents to write or draw with children about their expectation for school and share with the school.

  • Create packages that can be sent home. These could include: social stories, relevant staff photos, activities, photos of the Kindergarten environment, and any information contextual to the school.

  • Schools need to prepare for a range of options, dependent on the ever-changing information available at any one time. Each school is unique and needs to consider what works best for them, considering current advice and their local community.

  • Liaise with your Director, Educational Leadership (DEL) to consider any situations where you may need to modify ways of engaging with students and parents and carers, for example small or remote schools, or children with high additional needs.

  • School services are continuing to support schools. Please contact your area P-2 Initiatives Officer if you require advice or support with your planning.

Seek input or feedback

  • Survey new families and use feedback to plan specific sessions tailored to requests (for example Best Start Kindergarten Assessment, library and home readers).

  • Schedule phone or video meetings with local early childhood services, early intervention and other therapy support (speech etc.).

  • Host an online information session, where early childhood education services could invite the group of families enrolling in your school next year.

  • Send information to early childhood education services that they can distribute to families or have available for families at drop off and pick up.

  • Provide families with links to relevant website, for example cultural, multilingual, disability.

  • Encourage parents to engage in department website information and resources for families, Early Learning resources such as podcasts, activity suggestions and links to learning.

Suggested guidance for families

  • Follow the guidance provided by your local school in response to contextual government advice.

  • Assess your individual family’s needs and health vulnerabilities when deciding how to engage with the school.

  • Engage your child with any digital information provided by your school. Discuss with your child.

  • Phone the school and enquire about online enrolment, ask any admin-related questions, provide information.

  • Arrange a face-to-face, online meeting with the principal or Kindergarten teacher.

  • Access the department's Learning from Home page.

  • Work closely with your early childhood education service to ensure that connections occur, for example running a Microsoft Teams meeting with the local school from the preschool and discussing Transition to School Statements.

Next up ➜

Find out what important information you need to provide your school before your child starts Kindergarten.

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