UOW to kick off 2020 Early Start Speaker Series with school readiness theme
School readiness expert Dr Lyn Cronin will present a public talk on supporting children to make the transition into their first year of formal schooling on Wednesday evening, 11 March.
Dr Cronin’s talk will take “an in-depth look” at all aspects of the “exciting yet daunting” transition to school, and provide practical advice on how to prepare children for a positive and successful start to school for children and families.
The talk is the first in the 2020 Early Start Speaker Series, and will support early childhood education and care (ECEC) educators to support families who are transitioning to school in 2021. Important aspects of starting school will be covered, including academic, emotional, social and physical elements.
A researcher and teacher of early childhood in the University of Wollongong’s (UOW’s) Early Start and School of Education spaces, Dr Cronin specialises in transitions to school, and in literacy. Passionate about early learning, her special interest is in how young children develop literacy skills and understandings, and is a strong advocate for children’s sense of agency.
Taking a holistic approach to preparing children for their first year of school, Dr Cronin said, helps all those involved in transitioning a child to school, to ensure children have a positive start.
“Considering not just academic skills, but social, emotional, and physical skill as well. Not putting all the onus on the child to be ready but also thinking about ready families and how early childhood and school communities prepare for children’s transition to school,” she added.
She cautioned against taking a “one size fits all” approach to school readiness, noting that it looks different for all children and families and is dependent on the individual child, their particular context and that of the school.
“Children have a successful start to school when they feel a sense of belonging to the school community, when they feel valued for who they are and what they know and bring to their new school community,” Dr Cronin said.
Play is such an important part of school readiness, she added, but one which is often put aside in pursuit of school readiness.
“Play is an ideal way for children of all ages to learn. It is often underrated because the connection between play and the learning that results is often difficult to see,” she added.
“Children who are active in play, interact with others and have opportunities to explore and experiment with real materials. When children play, they use imagination and imitation which requires complex intellectual processes.”
Play, she said, “not only supports children intellectually, but socially, physically, creatively and their overall wellbeing.”
Dr Cronin’s session will also cover the “red shirting” debate, which questions if children should be held back from starting school so that they are more ready for school at age six, and also what primary school teachers believe it is important for children to know as they start school.
Further details are available on the Early Start Discovery Space website.