• Iris Windsor

Transition to School

Updated: Dec 5, 2018

Perhaps the biggest adjustment that the children will experience in the change from Kindergarten to Prep is the move away from play-based learning at childcare to a school system which is regimented and structured.

Teaching the children how to listen, how to sit still and that there are rules they will have to follow are all important skills.

For families with young children, transitions occur on a daily basis. The transition from Kindergarten to Preparatory can be a challenging time in a child’s life and quite the milestone.

When considering transitions, it is important to acknowledge that the child is a unique, active and engaged participant in learning within their local context, shaped by family, culture and experience.

Each adult around the child learns, leads, supports and actively invests in the child’s success

Each professional who engages with a child and their family has a part to play, especially the child’s early childhood educators.

Successful transitions require professionals to actively foster responsive relationships with each child and their families. Recognising and supporting families to manage transitions contributes to children’s wellbeing.

Early childhood professionals can help children build the necessary skills by recognising the strengths they each bring to transitions, building on the competence they demonstrate and scaffolding the abilities of each child.

Why is a positive transition to school important?

The importance of transition is now well acknowledged in research, policy and early childhood professionals’ practice with children. It is reflected in the National Quality Standard (NQS), which is the national benchmark for ECEC. This standard requires ECEC services to collaborate with other organisations and service providers to enhance children’s learning and wellbeing.

Starting school is a significant moment for children and their families, and although most children make this transition successfully, it is sometimes associated with anxiety, uncertainty and confusion.

Transition is not a one-off event. It is not complete at the end of the first day of kindergarten or school. It is a process that occurs over time. Even though groups of children might start a kindergarten program or school together, their individual characteristics and experiences make each transition a unique situation.

All children are different—even those of similar ages. When children start school, they experience environments different from home or their education and care service. It is not only the physical environment, but also the social nature of school, approaches to learning, and academic expectations, that can be very different. Children may participate in larger groups, with smaller numbers of adults. The ‘rules’ about how they interact with these adults and the environment or setting might also change.

To help bridge the gap and support children and families to manage these changes, Dragonfly’s Early Learning provides a Transition to School Initiative where we work directly with you and your child, and the school they will be transitioning to, to ensure their needs are met.

Outcomes and Indicators

Outcomes of a positive transition to school start with the child’s Kindergarten career.

A positive transition starts with a focus on children feeling safe, secure and supported within their Kindergarten environment.

They should exhibit an emerging autonomy, inter-dependence and resilience and display confident self-identities.

Children should feel a sense of belonging to their community and an understanding of their responsibilities necessary for active participation in their transition to school.

Children displaying dispositions for learning such as curiosity, co-operation, confidence, creativity, communication, commitment, enthusiasm, persistence, imagination and flexibility, along with exhibiting a range of skills and processes such as problem solving, inquiry, experimentation, hypothesising, researching and investigating, and the continuity or strengthening of these dispositions, are considered an outcome of a positive transition to school.

What is the outcome of a positive start to school?

1. Children feel safe, secure and supported within their environment

2. Children display emotional and social resilience within their environment.

3. Children feel a sense of belonging to the school community.

4. Children experience continuity of learning

5. Children have a positive relationship with their educators and peers.

6. Children feel positive about themselves as learners.

7. Children display dispositions for learning.

What does this look like

1. Children separate from caregivers easily

2. Children attend their setting regularly

3. Children demonstrate knowledge of environment, including routines and transitions and key staff and their roles

4. Children have and make friends

5. Children seek out assistance when needed

6. Children ask questions and contribute to class discussion

7. Children explore and try new things

8. Children confidently communicate with educators and peers

Even if your child has been in full time early learning or daycare, prep or school offers a range of new challenges.

These include the social demands of larger class sizes with fewer adults and more peer social interactions to navigate, as well as having to deal with older students in the hallways, bathrooms and on the playground. There is also a larger physical space and a bell system that divides the day into segments. There’s an increase in organized learning activities that require focus and attention. Taken together, the adjustment can be immense.

In the lead up, talk about the new routines

In the weeks before the start of school, you can begin to change routines like bedtime and breakfast. Predictable routines are important in early childhood and changes in routines have been linked to difficulties adjusting to school. It is wise to begin early and make changes gradually. Ask your child what they’re looking forward to at school. Ask about any concerns they may have. Have them draw and talk about both positive and anxiety-provoking activities. Then ease their worries by acknowledging feelings and coming up with solutions.

Help improve your child’s independence.

Encourage them to carry their own bags and put them away.

Get them in to a daily routine so they have a bit of glimpse into how their day may look.

Encourage them to go to the toilet on their own

Help them to recognise their own belongings

Encourage them to eat and drink without help.

Ensure they are eating a healthy breakfast each day before they leave.

Drive past the school and have a walk through, especially during school hours so they know what to expect. (Check with the school’s administration first).

Ensure you have everything they need for their first day – uniforms, hats, school bags

Make sure their belongings are labelled with your child’s name to decrease any stress in the first weeks while they are getting used to having to remember everything.

Prepare a cheat-sheet for the teacher

There are, then, of course, the genuine concerns of parents..... this is a big change for all concerned. In order to help it go a little more smoothly, you could prepare a one-page cheat sheet for the teacher, covering key information about your child.

It could include your child’s photo, name and nickname, date of birth, medical conditions, allergies, family members, pets, interests, food likes and dislikes, favourite games and play activities, talents and interests.

It might also include any worries that you are aware of that your child may have about starting school.

Please call us on 5471 6500 to discuss your needs or to arrange a walk through so that you can see our beautiful centre for yourself

Find out more about Dragonfly's Early Learning at


Many thanks to our very capable kindergarten graduate teacher, Paige Walters, for her contribution to this article.


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