24 January 2024

Shellharbour's new program preparing little kids for big school

| Keeli Royle
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Two kids playing.

Kinder Ready will help kids prepare to take the step into primary school. Photo: Supplied.

Starting school can be a big step for a small child, with new expectations, structures and experiences creating a daunting prospect, but a Shellharbour business is helping to make the transition as smooth as possible and give children the best start on their educational journey.

Kinder Ready was created by experienced primary school teacher Stephanie McDonald to help children build the steppingstones needed to make the leap.

“It closely focuses on school readiness skills around academic, social and emotional skills,” Ms McDonald said. “Our aim is to develop our little ones into inspiring, confident, creative, and independent learners who are ready to thrive in school and spark a passion for lifelong learning.”

She said the need for the program was built due to a number of factors which made the transitional period particularly difficult for children.

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“There is a high demand for Kinder preparation and not enough access for the growing population of the Shellharbour region,” she said.

“In addition to this, I have seen firsthand the impact that early intervention has on a child’s success in their first year of primary education.”

This includes addressing struggles which some children have never experienced before, like being separated for a longer amount of time from their parent or caregiver.

“Moving from the familiar environment of home or preschool to a larger and more structured school setting can trigger separation anxiety,” Ms McDonald said. “Post pandemic the prevalence of parents working remotely (from home) has increased; this in turn has indirectly affected children as they may become more dependent on their parents/carers and having difficulty separating come starting Kindergarten.”

The academic demands of school may also be higher than what they are used to, with students having to adjust to more formal educational activities than what they experienced in preschool.

Adapting to following an increased structure and routine, with timetables and rules, may also be tough.

And this all happens at a pivotal time.

“The transition to primary school coincides with a period of significant developmental changes in children,” Ms McDonald said. “Their cognitive, emotional, and social skills are still developing, and adapting to these changes while managing the demands of school can be challenging.”

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On top of all that, they are also thrust into a completely new social environment.

“Primary school introduces children to a larger social circle with new classmates and teachers,” Ms McDonald said.

“Building new friendships, navigating social dynamics, and adapting to the expectations of a larger peer group can be daunting for some children.”

Students develop the skills to prepare for all these changes through a weekly one-hour session run over the course of four terms, designed to be completed in the year before the child starts primary school.

Enrolments are being accepted now, with Term 1 beginning on 5 February.

To find out more or to get in contact visit the Kinder Ready website.

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