The first day of Prep can be one of the most exciting and challenging times for a family.
Toorak College places great importance on ensuring that children successfully transition each year. How does the School help transition the children? How can you as the parent help prepare them for day one of Prep?
Toorak ensures the transition into Prep is progressive and seamless
A transition into Prep needs to be treated with care. Unlike other year levels, moving from Pre-Prep to Prep is much bigger leap.
At Toorak College, the transition period into Prep occurs throughout the entire prior year with our Early Learning and Junior School teachers taking pride in the ongoing process that helps a child cope with significant change. Throughout the year, the Early Learning children visit the Prep classroom and work alongside the Prep children and staff in order to build meaningful relationships and connections.
Our Prep teachers also spend quality time with the Pre-Prep children in their own Early Learning environment, which sends a strong message that they value and honour what the children are currently doing.
Throughout Term 4, the more official transition activities occur and Toorak holds four orientation mornings where they spend time with Preps as an official beginning into Junior School.
Transition to school statements are completed in Term 4, where the Pre-Prep teacher, parent, and child all contribute to the statements. At the end of the year, the Pre-Prep teachers meet with the Prep teacher and have a formal handout to track and target a more individualised learning approach for the children coming into Prep.
While at the Early Learning Centre, children become familiar with the School
There is a huge benefit to being on one campus at Toorak College. The Early Learning children all the way up to Year 12 work harmoniously together on the same grounds where Early Learning children can see sports students learning to play tennis or diving, and they can watch dance concerts and music recitals, plus interact with children of any age who come to visit the Early Learning Centre. Even though Senior School, Junior School, and Early Learning all operate different programmes, the spirit of the school is that it is one whole unity. Having the child on campus from the beginning allows them to connect to the School that truly feels like their second home.
Early Learning and Prep children become great friends
At Toorak College, the Prep classrooms and a play area are adjacent to the Early Learning Centre. On a daily basis, the children in Early Learning and Prep interact, play with each other and even become great friends. Throughout the year, there are opportunities for the Early Learning and Prep children to be involved in events such as dress up days, assemblies and Early Learning-Prep family fun night. Likewise, the Early Learning children also engage with the older year levels, providing opportunities for them to see what they can aspire to in terms of leadership roles, sport and music opportunities, and public speaking.
During the Christmas holidays, the new Preps will receive a letter in the mail from the current Prep children, sharing the learning journey they have had in their Prep year. This is a wonderful personalised touch to the Early Learning program all to help guide your child into a positive and fulfilling academic journey ahead.
Our program is student-centric and offers quality learning to develop new skills
Early Learning is designed to equip children with a sense of the awareness, confidence, and curiosity before entering Prep. While working alongside the Early Learning educators, the children can feel safe and nurtured to experience new things. When this kind of risk-taking happens, confidence within that child grows dramatically. A heightened sense of curiosity above what the child already has within them expands and their ability to think creatively and critically begins to develop. Throughout the year the Early Learning teachers focus on many aspects of the children’s learning and development, including assessing and supporting their literacy and numeracy skills as well as building and supporting their relational development (how are they collaborating together for example). All of these skill-building experiences assist in the seamless transition into Prep and can help to ease those ‘first day jitters’.
First day jitters for parents and children is normal and our teachers are here to help
The first day of Prep also comes with a tsunami of doubt and questions, such as where you need to go, where to drop your child off, where to park, how your child will socialise with staff and other kids, and so forth. Being in a K-12 environment means the stress of all the little things can disappear. You as the parent, are already familiar with the school environment and where everything is located. You know the majority of the children who are transitioning alongside them, and you are aware of the staff who will be guiding your child’s academic journey. And, when your stress fades, so does your child’s! With our educators already familiar with your child in terms of who they are and how they learn, they can deliver a nurturing approach that reminds them of their time in Early Learning while also stepping up in the level of academic exposure.
Make sure your child is familiar with the school before day one
If you have not attended the school before ensure you attend an orientation day. A child will feel so much more confident and be put at ease when they are familiar with their new surroundings. A great way to begin a conversation about the School in a positive way is by asking open questions about the process of walking to class, interacting with other children and reminding them that they are ‘big kids’ now, which they will love to hear.
Talk about your child's teacher and the school
A few words of positivity can go a long way in a child’s mind. Talking about your child’s teacher to them can help ease those nerves and get them interested in who they will be learning from. A few places to start can be as simple as, ‘What do you think your teacher will be like?’ or ‘What do you think the teacher will get you to do?’ A great way to settle them is to ask your child to draw a picture of a school environment that they imagine it to be like and pass it to the teacher on the first day, making both the child and the teacher’s first day extra special.
Practise the routine
Familiarise your child with the routine that will come into play when school starts. Take a few days leading up to the first day where you get up early in the morning, pack lunch (with labels and easy-to-open boxes) and water, put on the school uniform and leave the house to drive to school. By practising this once or twice can help make all the difference to ensuring your child is prepped.
Still worried about the transition into Prep? Talking with a teacher at the school is another great way to satisfy any queries you may have. Call our reception or email us with your enquiry.
Pat Barbieri is the Head of Early Learning at Toorak College.