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Gearing Up for Prep - Our Little Ones Are Not So Little Any More

Updated: 7 days ago

The transition from kindergarten to prep is an exciting time! It's natural for parents, especially those with children entering kindergarten for the first time, to wonder what their child will be expected to know and be able to do. Australian kindergartens focus on fostering a love of learning through play and exploration, which might have you wondering - will my child actually learn anything "academic" before prep?


Setting Realistic Expectations

The Early Years Learning Framework emphasizes a holistic approach to development, focusing on social, emotional, and cognitive skills alongside early literacy and numeracy. Understanding developmental milestones helps set achievable goals. Having realistic expectations for what children learn in kindergarten is crucial for both parents and educators in supporting a child's development and smooth integration into prep.


Benefits for Parents:

Reduced Stress: Understanding the focus on social and emotional development, alongside early literacy and numeracy, can alleviate pressure on parents to push academics prematurely.

Focus on Progress: Realistic expectations allow parents to celebrate their child's social and emotional growth, recognizing it as a vital foundation for future learning.

Stronger Partnerships: Realistic expectations pave the way for open communication and collaboration with educators, fostering a team approach to the child's development.

Benefits for Educators:

Effective Teaching Strategies: Knowing what skills children are expected to develop allows educators to tailor their teaching approaches, maximizing learning opportunities.

Positive Learning Environment: Realistic expectations create a more relaxed and playful learning environment, fostering a love of learning in children.

Identifying Learning Needs: Educators can better identify areas where individual children may need additional support, ensuring they are prepared for prep.

Impact on Child Development:

Holistic Growth: Realistic expectations allow for a balanced focus on social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development, laying a strong foundation for future learning.

Confidence and Self-Esteem: When children feel successful in mastering age-appropriate skills, it builds their confidence and self-esteem, which are crucial for academic success.

Smooth Transition to Prep: A strong foundation in social skills, emotional regulation, and a love of learning allows children to adapt more easily to the more structured environment of prep.

What to expect

What Schools Expect:

Social butterflies: Prep classrooms involve more group activities and interactions. Sharing, cooperation, and conflict resolution skills are important.

Communication skills: Expressing needs and wants clearly, following instructions, and actively listening are key for successful learning.

Emerging literacy and numeracy: Exposure to letters, sounds, numbers, and basic counting sets the stage for formal learning in prep.

Self-care and independence: Being able to manage basic needs like toileting, dressing, and following routines helps children adjust to the school schedule.

Enthusiasm for learning: A curious mind and a desire to explore new things are the strongest foundations for success in prep.

What Parents Can Expect (From a Kindergarten Parent's Perspective):

Focus on social and emotional development: While you might be picturing worksheets and flashcards, kindergartens prioritize building friendships, managing emotions, and developing self-confidence. This might surprise you, but these skills are absolutely crucial for future academic success!

Active, inquiry-based experiential learning, with a sprinkle of academics: Learning at this age involves a lot of fun and exploration. You will also see introductions language and maths, thorough learning with the Phonetic and Montessori Mathematics curriculum, and also basic concepts to prepare them for the more structured environment of prep.

Regular communication: Teachers will provide updates on your child's progress and opportunities to discuss their learning journey. This will help you understand how those social and emotional skills, and even playtime, are all contributing to their development.

Partnership with educators: Working together with teachers sets the stage for a smooth transition and ongoing support. Think of yourselves as a team, ensuring your child feels confident and prepared for their next big step.


What Should Not be Expected at this Age:

Advanced reading and writing: While children will be exposed to phonics and sight words, formal reading fluency typically develops later in prep.

Complex math skills: Counting, basic addition and subtraction, and recognizing shapes are great starting points. Complex math concepts come later.

Sitting still for extended periods: Children are naturally energetic. Movement breaks and engaging activities are the norm.

Common Misconceptions:

Earlier is better: Extensive research shows emotional and social readiness are more important than starting school at a young age.

Academic pressure: Kindergarten is about building a love of learning, not pushing academics.

Comparison is key: Every child develops at their own pace. Celebrate your child's unique strengths and focus on their progress.

Remember, the transition to prep is about building on the foundation laid in kindergarten. By focusing on social skills, self-care, and a love of learning, both parents and teachers can ensure a smooth and successful start to your child's formal education!


In the table below the kindergarten expectations are aligned with the EYLF and developmental milestones for 5-year-olds transitioning to prep, and how the Montessori Education supports this process:

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