Starting prep is an exciting landmark in the lives of children, so making sure they are prepared beforehand is essential to set them on the path of enjoying going to school.
Contrary to what many believe, getting ready for school is not about teaching children literacy or numeracy skills beforehand. Early childhood educators say it’s far more important that parents foster their child’s social skills, independence and confidence.
“Preparing for school is not about teaching them the alphabet or their numbers, it’s the really simple things like ensuring your child can open their lunch box for themselves, get dressed themselves and go to the toilet by themselves along with all those self-help skills,” said Hayley Williams, an experienced educator and owner of Just Kids Early Education House. “The more independence we can instil in children, the better.
“If a child is showing an interest in reading or writing then they’re ready to learn. But if they’re not showing any interest, they’re not ready to learn.”
It is important to get your child involved in the whole process of going to school. Helping to decide what they’re having in their lunch box, getting themselves dressed for school, packing their school bag and carrying their own bag help to develop their independence.
“The more responsibility you can give your child the better,” Ms Willliams said. “It helps develop life skills that are far more important that teaching them the ABCs.”
Helping your child to develop social skills is also important so they learn to interact happily with other children. Teaching them to wait their turn, share their toys and interact with others are just some of the skills learned through play.
Transition to a larger school can be daunting, so it’s a good idea to visit the school regularly ahead of time so your child is familiar with the school grounds, the school itself and the school environment. Early learning centres like Just Kids work closely with local schools and parents and have specific programs and activities for students and parents that help prepare children for school.
“School is such a big step, even if a child is familiar with the school because they have older siblings there,” Ms Williams said. “It can be quite a daunting step for them, so it’s really important parents don’t put too much pressure on them. Some students will be excited, some will be apprehensive, and it’s important to allow them to express those emotions so you can help them work through them.
“Afterall, every parent wants their child to enjoy going to school.”
For more information on preparing your child for prep, visit
Top tips to help your child prepare for school:
- Teach them how to pack their own lunch box and their school bag
- Ensure they can put their shoes on by themselves (avoid shoes with laces)
- Make sure they are able to dress themselves
- Ensure they can go to the toilet by themselves
- Teach them to recognise their belongings
- Visit the school beforehand to familiarise your child with the environment