Boambee Public’s 2022 Kindergarten class welcomed with thoughtful transition
Older student buddies at New South Wales primary school, Boambee Public, are helping the incoming Kindergarten class of 2022 to make the transition from early childhood education and care (ECEC) to ‘big school’ with thoughtful letters.
The initiative is just one of the innovations that has made the school the ‘gold standard’ when it comes to making the all important steps to enter the world of school. The transition program also including multiple visits to early childhood services and an orientation program that involves shorter, more regular school visits, which allow incoming students to better develop familiarity with the physical school environment and build relationships with school staff and other students.
Key to the program is the development of relationships across the school cohort through a buddy system. Under the scheme, a student in years 4 or 5 accepts the duty of taking a preschooler under their wing and writing and mailing a letter to their preschool buddy.
Learning Support Teacher and one of the transition-to-school program coordinators Sue Grant said having a buddy helped pre-school children settle into school.
“The older students love writing these letters, they get very excited to talk about how wonderful our school is and how much there is to do here. They speak of the interests they have at school, what the teachers are like and how excited they are to meet their buddy,” Ms Grant said.
“The older students hope they can make a difference in their little buddy’s new experience at big school. In the process, they learn the skill of letter writing and the social impact of being responsible for a little one and respect those who are different to them, to keep them safe and happy at school.”
Ms Grant said there were numerous benefits to the young children who took part in the transition to school program, with preschoolers being “far more comfortable and confident” to walk into school and happily say goodbye to their parents/carers at the gate.
“Not only do the youngsters have their buddies to walk them around to their classrooms for the first couple of sessions, they also have ready-made partners to participate in activities in the kindergarten rooms. The buddies will also have lunch with their little kinder buddy on these days,” Ms Grant said.
The transition from preschool to kindergarten is not only a big part of a child’s life, but also the early childhood educators who nurture the children through the process.
Little Hands Boambee Assistant Director Nicole Kafer said it was bittersweet time for staff.
“As an educator I love watching our children who start with us at just two years old grow over their years at preschool and leave us for big school! It’s such a beautiful experience. We do get sad knowing that their time with us at preschool is coming to an end,” Ms Kafer said.
Despite the sadness, Ms Kafer has seen many benefits for the preschoolers, observing a strong sense of belonging in the new school environment.
“Starting school can be very overwhelming for children,” she explained. “We discuss ‘big school’ all year with our preschool group to develop their identity and feelings as they transition to school. We also work with our families to help their children get the best start at kindergarten,”
The main image for this story features Preschool twins Brody and Dylan with their buddy letters meeting their big school buddies Liam and Cody for the first time (left to right).
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