News - Prep now compulsory as back-to-school draws near

18th January 2017

So how do you know if your child is ready for school?

A QUT early childhood researcher is cautioning parents against using checklists of what children can and can’t do before starting Prep.

The full-time Prep year is compulsory for all school-age children from January 23, 2017, after the extra year of schooling was introduced by the Queensland Government on a voluntary basis in 2007.

QUT Associate Professor Susan Irvine from the Faculty of Education, School of Early Childhood, said checklists were often too narrow in focus.

“Don’t be distracted by single tasks like knowing the alphabet or writing their name. This is what they will learn in school,” she said.

“There are numerous checklists available to help parents to determine if their child is ready for school, however, parents need to exercise caution when using these.

“They tend to look for gaps in knowledge and skills and place too much emphasis on what children can’t do.”

Professor Irvine also raised concerns from teachers about the push to teach academic content earlier to younger children with curriculum expectations in Prep then influencing expectations in Kindergarten.

“There’s growing concern the Prep year had shifted too far toward Year 1,” she said.

“Beginning formal academic work too early has been found to detract from children’s enjoyment of learning and school and impact on their motivation to learn.

“It’s important to pause and think about what is important to support successful transition to school and to consider all areas of children’s learning and development.”

Professor Irvine said Kindergarten teachers spent a great deal of time developing transition statements for their students.

“Sharing this transition statement with your child’s school is really important as it provides an overview of your child’s current learning strengths, interests and ways they learn best,” she said.

She said the Department of Education had made some advancements with its focus on “Ready Schools” and transition policies.

“We need a rebalanced view of school readiness that is focussed on schools being ready to welcome and work with a diverse group of Prep children who will start school with different strengths, interests, learning preferences and needs,” she said.

Media contact: Debra Nowland or 07 3138 1150 or Rose Trapnell 0407 585 901

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