The new Preparatory Year aims to give children a smooth transition into Year 1, but it’s not compulsory. Is your child ready to start formal schooling?

So you need to make the decision whether your child is ready for Prep or not – here are a few things to consider before you sign your little one up for class.

1. Are they old enough?

Children must be five by 30 June in the year they start Prep. Education Queensland has a Prep ready reckoner to help work out dates for when your child should start Prep or Year 1.

2. Are they academically ready?

School readiness isn’t about being able to read or write, know colours or count – these skills will be taught at school, so if your child isn’t fully academically prepared, don’t stress.

3. Are they emotionally ready?

This is the more important consideration as it will impact on your child’s Prep experience. Their first year of school should see them thriving and flourishing, not simply ‘coping’.

Can they make independent decisions and follow through on them? Do they have ideas of their own? Can they follow two or three instructions at the same time? Do they interact with other children? How do they deal with frustration? These are all the questions you could consider before you send your child to Prep.

4. What does their teacher say?

The best person to determine their school readiness is their kindergarten or preschool teacher – someone who is trained in early childhood development and observes your child in a school-like environment. Listen to their opinion and consider their comments on the transition statement created at the end of the year to help your child move smoothly into early schooling.

5. How will holding them back a year impact them?

It’s easier to start them later than have your child repeat a year, but consider how this will affect them later – they may have to compete with other age groups in sport or other competitions, for instance. Will the benefit of emotional and social maturity outweigh any possible drawbacks?

Ultimately, Prep helps to set your child up for Year 1 and improves reading, writing and maths skills in a supportive and social environment, but not every child is ready. Consider each individual’s emotional maturity and social progress before deciding, and remember that a good teacher will help guide your child through the transition to school life.

How you can help prepare them for their first year of school:

  • Improve their independence – pack and carry their own bag, putting on shoes and eating and drinking without help will assist with this
  • Have a daily routine – go to bed early, wake up at a certain time, have a healthy breakfast
  • Know the school environment – drive past and walk around the school to get them used to the number of children and their movements within the school grounds
  • Get involved with school community – meet the teacher, talk to other parents, read newsletters and attend school events or volunteer; these are all great ways to make school seem like familiar territory for your child

Are you sending your child to Prep, waiting a year to start later, or skipping Prep altogether? Let us know your thoughts!