The Big Switch – Preschool vs Primary School

Is your child starting ‘big school’ soon? School readiness is about more than ABC and 123 and there are some big switches ahead for you and your child.

To start with, the ratio of adults to children in preschools is usually about 1:10, but in most Kindergarten, Prep, and Reception classrooms, numbers are usually higher.

Education departments in each state and territory in Australia all have their own “optimal” limits for class sizes in the first year of school, but if your child is going to attend an independent or systemic Catholic school, you may find that these limits do not apply. (The current record for the biggest Kindergarten class in Kids First’s local area is 33 students.)

Can you imagine being the only adult among that many five-year-olds?

Here are some tips to help your child make a successful switch from preschool to primary school from Kids First founder and best-selling author, Sonja Walker

helping preschoolers transition to primary school

Classroom realities

When your child starts school, he or she will be sharing the teacher’s attention with many more peers than they may be used to. You’re likely to find that there are a few differences that you and your child will need to adjust to as well.

When teachers deal with between 15 and 30 children every day, there are some things that are simply not practical in the classroom.

For example, when the children have enjoyed a dance or gymnastics class, it’s logistically impossible for the teacher to singlehandedly tie the shoelaces of every single student in the group. (So for the love of all things holy, buy school shoes with Velcro tabs next year. Your child’s teacher will be eternally grateful.)

Tips to build children's independence as they start school

While teachers understand that children in their first year of school have a lot to learn, there’s a level of independence that they do expect.

School is not a place where parents carry their children through the front gate and do things for them that they can do for themselves.

Your child’s primary school teacher will not hover over your child waiting for an opportunity to step in and save the day. Now is the time for your child to be doing things for themselves and being responsible for their own belongings.

If your child is heading off to school next year and you are still acting as their personal ‘mule’, it’s time to stop. Now.

Most four and five years olds are perfectly capable of carrying their own hats, bags, toys, and craft.
Insisting that your child is independent in this regard is an important step toward their school readiness, and while they may protest, the skills they will gain will be invaluable.

Backpacks teach kids for be self reliant

Encouraging a ‘you can do it’ attitude

Sometimes children with unique needs are used to receiving help from others. Your son or daughter might get a bit of a shock if there’s no one around to lend them a hand when ‘big school’ begins, so the time to start building self-reliance is now.

One way to practice this skill by is giving your son or daughter a backpack to take with them when they go out. It’s never too early to place a water bottle, picture book, and hat in a bag so that kids have the opportunity to learn to look after their own belongings.

It’s inevitable that your child will lose things at school.

Ask any experienced primary school parent and they will tell you that hats, jumpers, and lunchboxes often go AWOL. Expensive musical instruments and school blazers are left on buses and kids occasionally go home with a classmate’s school bag.

As you practice with your child this year, you might leave the backpack behind a few times, but this simple strategy is a great way to start building the independence needed for school. Anything you can do now to teach your child to be responsible for themselves and their belongings is a good thing and will save you a lot of drama in the long run.

Extract from SCHOOL READY: A practical and supportive guide for parents with sensitive kids by Kids First founder and best-selling author, Sonja Walker

Get your copy of SCHOOL READY here …

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