Smoothing the transition from lockdown to the 'big' classroom

Young Academics Riverstone Educator Christine Graham (left) and Centre Manager Genny Copper. Picture: Supplied
Young Academics Riverstone Educator Christine Graham (left) and Centre Manager Genny Copper. Picture: Supplied

As children head back to the classroom after months of at-home learning, a local early childhood educator has provided some tips for parents to smooth the transition for their young ones going back into childcare - and also some advice to help prepare them for 'big school'.

After over a hundred days of home learning, children will need to be ready both mentally and physically for the transition out of lockdown and into the classroom, and that affects preschool-aged children just as much as those that attend primary.

Christine Graham, Educator at Young Academics Riverstone, said she had noticed that some children who had stopped attending in-centre learning during the lockdown had forgotten some of the social skills they had previously picked up. But parents ought not to be alarmed, as she said this was "to be expected".

"Luckily it is a simple process to re-acquaint themselves with behaviours and social skills that will help them in the transition from early education to school," Ms Graham said.

Ms Graham said it was "now more important than ever" to ensure that preschool-aged children were properly prepared for the "significant transition to 'big' school."

"After 100+ days of lockdown, face-to-face learning and social interactions with peers are something we will need to get children used to again as we prepare them for the school classroom next year," she said.

"This is nothing for parents to stress about, as most young children are in the same position, but rather it is something for us all to work on together."

Ms Graham said that while foundational literacy and numeracy skills were important for children starting school, the Young Academics Riverstone team were prioritising children's social, emotional, physical, communication and cognitive behaviours and skills when getting them school-ready.

She provided the following tips for families to help them build on their child's physical, cognitive and emotional development at home as they prepare for the important transition to 'big' school.

  • Organise play dates with other children who will be starting at the same school. This will not only grow your child's social skills, but also help them gain confidence in starting school with someone they already know.
  • Encourage autonomy and conversation whenever you can. Getting your child to dress themselves and help make their own lunches will help build emotional maturity and independence. Engaging in conversation with your preschooler will develop their comprehension and vocabulary ready for them to express themselves with new friends and teachers at school.
  • Ensure that you engage in a variety of play at home - from simple board games like Connect 4 and card games such as Snap, which are great for developing key cognitive skills - to physical activities such as running, climbing and ball play which will aid the development of gross motor skills.