Kindergarten orientation and transition 2020-21

Schools have been advised that Kindergarten orientation and transition to school can resume for students with strict guidelines.

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

This guide has been developed to support schools in planning orientation programs for students entering Kindergarten in 2021. These plans may complement the positive transition strategies that schools have already put into place to engage with children and families remotely.

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

Schools can commence planning for orientation programs to be held from 2 November, subject to health advice and consistent with the advice that follows.

Kindergarten orientation

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 attendees including students and staff 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 program and current students.
  • Stagger start times to limit the number of people on site and to prevent queueing.
  • 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.
  • Ensure each parent signs the external visitors form (staff only).
  • 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.

Students with disability and additional learning and support 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 to 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, must maintain physical distancing. Ensure all adult visitors, including staff from other schools sign the external visitors form (staff only).
  • A planned orientation program 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 the student’s primary teacher, School Learning Support Officer, School Services support (Itinerant teacher) or other essential health care worker.

Information sessions for parents and carers

Information sessions and school tours for parents should continue to be run virtually.

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 need to consider what works best for them, taking into account current advice and their local community.
  • Liaise with your director, educational leadership (DEL) to consider any situations where you may need any modified ways of engaging with children and families (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 BSKA, 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 preschools could invite the group of families enrolling in your school next year.
  • Provide families with links to relevant website (for example cultural, multilingual, disability).
  • Encourage parents to engage in department website information for families Early Learning resources such as podcasts, activity suggestions and links to learning.

Differentiated approaches

  • Provide families with a means that enables them a safe way to meet either the principal or Kindergarten teacher.
  • Find out if there are any children who might require a more targeted approach (for example disability) and offer single families or small groups of children an orientation visit, ensuring any current social distancing rules are complied with. This could be planned later in the year.
  • The Learning and Wellbeing team still play a role in liaising with schools re new students. Schools should ensure that they have enough information and resourcing to support these students as they transition. next year.

Suggested guidance for families

  • 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 an online meeting with the principal or kindergarten teacher.
  • Access the department's Learning from Home page.
  • Work closely with your preschool or early childhood service to ensure that connections occur, for example running a Microsoft Teams meeting with the local school from the preschool.
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