Making a smooth transition to big school
Starting primary school is a bit like discovering play dough – it's a big event in your child's life. And whether your little learner is raring to go, or slightly reticent, there are many ways that you can help them prepare for life in the classroom.

According to the Victorian Department of Education and Training here's how you can support your child in the months and moments before that first school bell rings.

How to prepare your child throughout the year

In the months before your child starts school, focus on the two Ps – positivity and preparedness. To do this:
  • Talk about school. Ask your child what they think about starting school and whether they have any questions. See if friends and other families have positive anecdotes about school.
  • Keep your child healthy. Make sure their vaccinations are up-to-date and that they have regular dental and health check-ups in the year before starting school.
  • Promote independence. Encourage your child to do things on their own, like getting dressed, going to the toilet, washing their hands and grappling with their lunchbox and drink bottle.
  • Get involved. Attend any transition-to-school programs offered by your child’s current early childhood service and/or future school. Find out the school’s hours and where to take your child on their first day.
  • Nurture their learning and development. Ask educators how you can help your child learn and develop at home and once they’re at school.

How to prepare your child over the holidays

In between making sandcastles and visiting the grandparents, the holidays are also a great time to get ready for the start of term.
  • Do a practice (school) run. Show your child where their new school is and explain how you’ll get there. Go through their before and after school arrangements, purchase any school supplies and practise getting ready for school, i.e. packing their bag.
  • Find a fellow schoolmate. Arrange play dates with other kids who’ll be going to your child’s school. There’s nothing like a friendly face on their first day.
  • Read books. There are lots of great books about starting school, so visit the library or bookshop and look for titles like Starting School by Jane Godwin, First Day by Andrew Daddo and One Keen Koala by Margaret Wild and Bruce Whatley.
  • Be positive! Share in your child's excitement and, if they're a wee bit apprehensive, help them think about the up sides of starting school.

Final preparations

When there's just one more sleep (or no more sleeps) until your child’s first day, focus on getting everything organised in a cool, calm and collected manner.
  • The night before, help your child get their clothes, hat, shoes and socks ready. Make sure they know who’s taking them to school and who’s picking them up.
  • In the morning, try to avoid the morning rush. Help your child pack their bag (including spare undies and a change of clothes for any accidents) and put on sunscreen if necessary. Once at school, show your child where they’ll be met when the home bell rings.
  • After school, ask your child what happened during the day and congratulate them on completing their first day at big school!

A quick recap

In summary, parents can prepare children for school by:
  1. Talking about school and listening to their thoughts
  2. Encouraging independence
  3. Explaining practical arrangements and doing 'dry runs'
  4. Familiarising them with school via transition-to-school programs and books
  5. Being positive

Oh, and don't forget child care!

Whether your school kid needs out of hours care next year or your little one will be in pre-school, long day care or family day care, make sure you organise child care well ahead of time.

Here are three child care reminders for year end:
  1. Enrol or re-enrol in child care for January
  2. Ensure your child's vaccinations are up-to-date
  3. Book your Christmas or New Year babysitter early
For more info, read the end of year checklist and holiday reminder list.
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