Holy Cross Primary School’s 2021 Kindergarten class want two questions answered before starting big school next year.
“Does the canteen sell ham and cheese toasties?” and “What happens if a bird bites me at school?”
The group of busy four and five-year-olds attended their first Kindergarten Transition Day on Tuesday, an event the school’s principal admits was unimaginable only a month ago.
After COVID-19 regulations put a dampener on hosting gatherings of non-school community children at the Glendale site, the school’s principal, Debra Hawthorne, and her team were forced to get creative.
Equipped with activity packs, teddy bears, and t-shirts, Ms Hawthorne and her Early Learning teachers drove to the home of each enrolled Kindergarten student to ensure any nerves associated with starting big school could be abated.
“We made up transition bags that had a variety of activities in them,” Ms Hawthorne said.
“They had pebbles with the kids letters on them so they could practice making their names, there were portraits to draw, and a teddy bear each that they had to name and bring with them when they started at the school.”
Ms Hawthorne said the 26 home visits took most of the day to complete.
“We packed the car up and we left at 10am and we got back to the school at 3.30pm,” she said.
“Some of the kids were at preschool so we spoke to their parents, and some weren’t home at all, so we left their bags on their doorstep.
“At that stage, we weren’t allowed to have transition mornings, so we had to be creative.”
The teddy bears each child received in their pack were designed to help bring to life the book Geoff and Martha’s first day of school, which the school’s early learning teachers use to help kids settle into school life.
Each bear attended a teddy-bear picnic on Tuesday as the school held its inaugural 2020 Kindergarten Transition Day.
“It was all designed to ease the anxiety felt by the kids,” Ms Hawthorne said.
“But it also alleviates some of the anxiety felt by the parents as well.”
Surveys are another technique employed by Ms Hawthorne’s team to help reduce anxiety about starting school.
A set of questions are designed to give the group a chance to ask any questions they might have about life as a primary school student.
“Transition is more about what the kids feel they need to know,” Ms Hawthorne said.
“Parents can find the answers to their questions in the handbook, but children have their own questions.
“We asked them what they need to know, what they like and don’t like, and then Kindergarten teacher Beth Sullivan wrote personalised letters addressing some of the things they’d highlighted.”
Hayley Cochrane, whose son Harrison is enrolled in the 2021 Kindergarten class at Holy Cross, said meeting the school principal in his home was both exciting and humorous.
“I think it was such a great thing for them to do,” Hayley said.
“Harrison was very impressed, and it made him less nervous about seeing her around the school.
“The school has done a wonderful job at preparing all the kids for next year.”
In October, Catholic Schools NSW announced that, in line with state government legislation, orientation days would be reintroduced from the start of November.
Catholic Schools’ Education Officer for Early Learning Kim Moroney says the news was vital as the start of formal education was extremely important.
“Transition is a complex and long-term process that involves a child’s identity,” Ms Moroney said.
“There is not a one-size-fits-all transition to school.
“Children do not need to ‘get ready’ for school, schools are getting ready for the child.”