Starting school can be an exciting, though often anxious experience for young children and their families. When children move from a familiar child care environment, with established relationships and routines, a larger more structured school setting can be overwhelming even for very confident children. Child care services play an important role in preparing children and families for school and easing their transition from child care to the school setting.
The value of effective school readiness and transition Positive early school experiences through sound preparation and smooth transitions create good short and long term outcomes for children. Effective school readiness experiences and transition programs help child care professionals and families to identify when individual children are ready for school and to prepare them with the skills and qualities they need for a fruitful school experience. Constructive school readiness and transition experiences also create links between the service, families and schools. Foundations for success at school Child care services are ideal environments for children to develop the qualities needed to succeed in all areas of life, including school.
Child care services do not need to turn into school environments to prepare children for school. Supporting children’s school readiness is about assisting them to develop their skills in areas such as literacy, numeracy and self-care when they are ready for this, and at their own pace. Children’s social competence is at the core of their readiness for school and effective school transitions. Social skills such as sharing, turn taking and playing well with other children are essential in assisting children’s short and long term success at school. Responsive, positive relationships between children and their carers are also crucial in building children’s self-esteem and resilience which further assist them to make effective transitions from early childhood settings to school environments. Helping families to decide when their child is ready for school Many families rely on feedback from child care professionals to help them make decisions about their child’s readiness for school.
By providing clear information and discussing the issues that relate to each child’s school readiness, child care professionals can help families to understand the factors other than the child’s age that are important foundations for school. Ongoing observations of individual children by child care professionals will provide invaluable insights for families making decisions about their child’s school readiness. When considering a child’s readiness for school, families should be encouraged to make decisions based on their child’s skills, needs and interests. This will help families to decide when their child is best placed to begin school. Communicating with families about the benefits of child care in preparing children in all areas of their development
State and territory governments have varying legal requirements for the maximum and minimum age of children commencing school. Families can be directed to the department of education website in their state or territory for information about the compulsory school age.