Preparing for ‘Big School’

The Department of  Education and Early Childhood has a useful information portal where you can access information about any Victorian Government School matter.

Preparing your child for the start of primary school will help them feel more confident about the big changes that are about to happen and what to expect at their new school.In preparation for this important chapter, you can help your child to develop a love for learning so the move is a happy and positive one. From the year before until the day they start school, there are a range of ways you can prepare your child for their new environment.

THE YEAR BEFORE YOUR CHILD STARTS SCHOOL: the year before your child starts primary school, you can begin to focus on different aspects of school life.  Having discussions about school and encouraging your child to become more independent, can help them better adjust to the new learning environment. Things that you can do to help your child prepare include:

  • Begin our Transition Program as early as possible. We have 8 transition sessions, with our First session beginning in Term 1.
  • Follow us on Facebook so you and your child have the opportunity to see all the fabulous things that are happening in our school already. This also helps you and your child become familiar with faces of staff and students and events we hold.
  • Talk to your child about the positive experiences you have had and what you think they will enjoy about school.
  • encouraging your child to ask questions about going to school. Make a count-down calendar. “ ___sleeps till Big-School” Have a designated space that you can write “Questions about school” in your house. Write the answers and keep adding to these as the year progresses. Pop into the school to help answer them.
  • encouraging your child to do things on their own, such as dressing, washing their hands, going to the toilet, unwrapping their food, and opening their drink bottle and carrying their own bag to kinder or child care or when visiting family or friends.
  • talking to the staff, families and school council members at Barnawartha Primary about how you can be involved in your child’s life at school.
  • talking to your early childhood professional about other things you can do at home to help your child’s learning and development.

What your child should know or be able to do before starting school.

Writing: ‘Writing’ often begins with drawing and mark making. Please encourage your child to draw and ‘write’ about any experience and at every opportunity and always be genuinely proud of their attempts. Set up a personal space/table for them with a range of papers and writing materials for them to explore with. Children love to play “teachers” or “mums/dads” or be like their big brother or sister, or see themselves on the next series of  master chef/house rules/the block, and will mimic behavior such as writing spelling words, stories, shopping lists, quoting jobs, taking orders, making menus and scoring.

Children’s confidence can be destroyed instantly if they are corrected, teased or discouraged, or forced to “write” in any way. Sometimes we have the best intentions and want to correct their writing attempts, but depending on your child’s resilience, to them, this can either be seen as celebration or humiliation. Only when they ask to have it corrected, should you. And always celebrate the attempts they have made. Eg “look at all the letters you have written by yourself! You are such a confident writer.  Let’s write this word here for when you need it next time.” Children who see writing as a positive everyday experience will become naturally confident writers who will take risks with their writing.. They also need to see you make mistakes with spelling and writing and be aware of the problem solving strategies you used.  Eg “I’m not sure how to spell that word, but I’ll have a go anyway.”  let them listen to you sound out the beginning sound of a word or use thinking strategies like “ I can hear mmm like the sound at the start of Mum.”  Please remember that children progress at different stages with their writing, depending on a large number of factors. Some are  natural confident writers, some have photographic memory, and some just need a little more support and                    encouragement. If your child has begun exploring with letters and wants to write letters please encourage them to write  lower case letters only, ensuring they start and end in the correct place. We use the Victorian Curriculum handwriting (but with a closed p,b and traditional v, z).

Reading: read to and with your child on a regular basis at a time that is relaxing and enjoyable for you both. Model reading behaviors such as book direction (right way up, front to back, left to right) pointing to words, turning pages, looking at pictures and talking about what is happening in the story. Ask questions that provoke curiosity and conversation. Be creative and explore different character voices.

 Eg “I wonder what will happen next?” I wonder why the character is sad/happy/excited?” “What do you know about….”  This book makes me think about another book we read. Can you remember which one it’s like?” “ I thought that… but then…  And…” I really liked that book because of …the pictures/it rhymed/ it made me laugh/it reminded me of/”…  What do you think the book will be about?” what’s happening in this picture?” “How would the   character sound if they were happy/sad/scared/bossy/shy/friendly/excited?”

THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL: There are a range of things you can do to help your child have a  successful first day at school including:

  • helping your child to pack their school bag with a snack, drink, lunch and a hat. Include a change of clothes and a spare pair of underpants in a plastic bag and let your child know these clothes are there in case of any accidents
  • when dressing for school encourage your child to dress themselves, including jumpers (if needed), socks and shoes. Label all belongings and find out where lost property is held at school.
  • put sunscreen on your child in the morning if it is needed.
  • leave home on time allowing time to say goodbye. When the bell goes a please don’t prolong your goodbye, short and reassuring goodbye encourages independence. Telling your child you will miss them, or to ‘not be sad’ or ‘be brave’ or them seeing you becoming teary and emotional is confusing for them, and it can quickly create long term separation anxiety. Your child will misinterpret this as you thinking they are not going to be safe. Our advice is to give your child a quick hug, kiss and goodbye, and remind them where you will meet them after school.
  • Make sure they know who will be picking them up. Show your child where you will meet them at the end of the school day.
  • School finishes at 3:30, arrive in plenty of time to collect your child at the end of the day to catch up with other families and talk to your child about the great things that  have happened!


Please ensure that during the first weeks of school, that your child gets plenty of sleep in this initial period,  especially with the hot weather.  Make sure that your child wears suitable clothing for weather conditions,  and has an appropriate amount of food and a drink bottle. It would be appreciated if a change of clothes, especially underpants (clearly named) could be carried to school each day in a school bag in case of emergencies. Please also ensure your child can open any drink bottles, containers and wrappings in their lunch boxes, and that they can close them again. They need to know which food is for lunch, snack and fruit snack.  If bringing oranges, they should be pre-cut and placed in a ziplock bag or airtight container. We do not heat food, cut up fruit or provide utensils. We do have a small fridge in the junior room for students to use if they have bought food such as yoghurt, chicken or meat sandwiches. Please label these clearly. We expect our students to be responsible for their belongings from the very first day of school, this includes carrying their own bag to and from school as well as being accountable for keeping it neat and tidy.  Any notes to be taken home will be put in a plastic folder, please make sure this folder is in their bag everyday.

4 DAY WEEK Until March: During the first month of school and especially in the hotter weather, children in their first year of schooling often become quite tired.  In recognition of this, the D.E.T and our school have a modified  timetable with Foundation students not attending Wednesdays until March.

Foundation  ENTRY ASSESSMENT : During the month of February all children in Foundation will undertake assessment in literacy and numeracy.  This information is vital to ensure the classroom teacher has a clear understanding of the stages of  development that each child is at and is therefore able to tailor the classroom program to accommodate the individual needs of students.

SCHOOL HATS: Foundation children (only) will be presented, at no cost, with a navy blue hat either on their first day or as part of the Transition Pack which they will receive at the completion of the transition program the year prior.  Hats are an essential part of our school uniform and current Sun Smart policy.  Replacement hats can be purchased from the school for around $10.00.

SCHOOL NURSE ASSESSMENT: All Foundation students will be assessed during their first year of school by our School Nurse. The School Nurse will undertake a basic hearing, sight, language and physical development assessment.  There is also the opportunity to discuss any other health related issues after the initial assessment of your child.  Please make sure that any concerns that you have about your child’s health are discussed with the classroom teacher or school nurse for help and support. This is a        confidential service and requires parent or guardian consent.







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