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First Year of Schooling

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Photo of Holly (Teach Starter)
Updated | 4 min read

Foundation, Pre-Primary, Prep, Kindergarten, Reception, Transition, Pre-Kindergarten, Nursery…

Whatever the name, the first year of schooling is an important one for children and their parents. Both children and parents go through a roller-coaster of emotions about ‘big school’. This is completely understandable. The first year lays the foundations for creating a positive attitude toward school, and towards learning in general. As teachers, two of the main questions we are asked by parents include:

  • Is my child ready to start their first year of schooling?
  • What can I do to prepare them for their first year of schooling?

This blog post will outline what the first year of schooling is called around Australia, Great Britain and the United States. It will also give you some guidelines and resources that may be helpful in answering the many questions you may have.

What is the first year of school called where I live?

In Australia, the National Curriculum identifies the first year of schooling as ‘Foundation’. For this reason, all resources for this phase of schooling will be found under the ‘Foundation’ heading on our website. However, each state and territory around Australia still has their own name for the first year of schooling.

  • NSW – Kindergarten
  • VIC – Preparatory (Prep)
  • QLD – Preparatory (Prep)
  • WA – Pre-primary
  • SA – Reception
  • TAS – Preparatory (Prep)
  • ACT – Kindergarten
  • NT – Transition

In the United States, the first year of schooling is called Kindergarten. In the United Kingdom, the first year of schooling is called Reception.

How do I prepare my child for their first year of schooling?

1. Are they enrolled in an approved Kindergarten / Pre-Prep program?

Enrolling your child in an approved Kindergarten / Pre-Prep program is the first step towards ensuring they are ready for their first year of school life. These programs are directly aligned with the Foundation curriculum to ensure that children are prepared for the transition into primary school.

2. Improve your child’s independence

Aside from basic knowledge, improving your child’s independence is another step you can take to help your child get emotionally ready for school. Here is a list of things you could encourage your child to do on their own:

  • packing and carrying their own school bag
  • putting on their shoes
  • eating and drinking without help
  • going to the toilet on their own
  • using tissues to blow their nose
  • recognising their belongings.

3. Encourage a natural love of learning

Creating a love and passion for learning is another thing you can do at home to help your child’s schooling journey begin on a positive note. You can do this by:

  • reading (develops concentration and awareness of language patterns) and writing (shopping lists and letters)
  • playing around with letters and numbers
  • allowing them to role play during reading and writing
  • stimulating their imagination and natural curiosity (role play, visiting a zoo, going to the park, taking a train ride, visiting the airport)
  • playing sports, card and board games which encourages problem solving, language and social skills
  • shopping, walking or gardening together
  • talking with your children about how and why things happen or work, which will help build their vocabulary.

Parents often ask what resources they could use from our website to encourage this love of learning. The resources below are by no means a definitive guide as to what your child should know before their first year of schooling. They are simply some resources that could be used if you were wanting some extra guidance to help encourage a love of learning.

Some bright and fun posters to share with your child:

  1. A set of 11 Colour Poster
  2. Number train to 10
  3. Bunting flags displaying the alphabet
  4. Alphabet poster with pictures
  5. Animal posters displaying the numbers 0-9

Some fun activities you could do with your child:

  1. Jack and Jill sequencing activity – Read the story to your child. Together, put the pictures in order.
  2. Three Little Pigs sequencing activity – Read the story to your child. Together, put the pictures in order.
  3. Story posters – Use these pictures to make up stories together verbally. Make up silly stories! Make it enjoyable for your child.
  4. Feelings posters – Discuss the different feelings. A great way to increase vocabulary.
  5. Number poster 0-9 – Print, laminate and cut out each number. Together, talk about the number and put the numbers in order. Count the stars on the numbers together.

Remember, your child does not need to be able to do these activities by themselves. It is all about talking with your child and increasing their vocabulary and knowledge. If your child becomes bored or is not enjoying something, change it up. Make it fun! If you are talking about counting, go outside and see if you can count how many birds you can see!

What can I do if I am unsure if my child is ready to embark on school life?

Talk to the experts around you – your child’s kindy/pre-prep/preschool teacher and the school you intend on sending your child to. The big question to ask is whether or not your child is mature and independent enough to begin 13 or so years of schooling. It is very possible to fill in gaps of knowledge that a child may have; however, it is very difficult to ‘teach’ emotional and social maturity.


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