Now that we’ve been open for a few months and Kinder has started, we thought we’d share a recent conversation that we had with the Principal of a local school and his prep coordinator about transitions of children from Kindergarten to prep. We wanted to understand what it was that schools found to be appropriate foundational understanding in new children from kinder.
What they told us provided a significant insight into how to ensure a smooth transition from kindergarten to primary school. The key requirements were:
- Fundamental skills including understanding the concept of lessons and group time
- Fine motor skills (using scissors, holding pens with an appropriate grip)
- Socialisation and empathy
- Sharing and willingness to work together
- Understanding of numerical concepts
- Understanding of literacy concepts
- Understanding the expectation of routines
When children arrive in primary school with little understanding of these concepts, or even worse, incorrect understanding of these concepts, then it takes extensive effort for teachers remediate these situations. This in turn creates the danger of children not loving learning because they haven’t ever been taught that learning is fun. Instead, from day one in primary school, their behaviour or knowledge is being corrected because the effort was not put in during kindergarten. Children who feel that they aren’t good enough or that they are behind their peers often struggle to catch up or become disengaged very quickly and seek to gain attention or fade into the background.
At Young Minds, we believe in play-based learning, however we definitely don’t believe that this concept should be used as an excuse to not actually show, or model, or teach children the fundamental learning requirements that are expected in primary school.
A simple example at Young Minds of a child-led, fun activity that immediately translates to what schools want to see in their new children is as follows:
Olly* (not his real name) wanted to cut a banana and share it with his friends, so he got all the dishes that he needed from the shelf, and a small knife and cut the banana all by himself. Olly’s teacher had previously modeled the behaviour to him and he had seen other children do this as well. After carefully cutting the banana into small pieces, he put toothpicks through each piece so that he could share them easily.
This activity demonstrates far more that the simple act of cutting fruit. Note that Olly is only four years old, and he’s only been in our Montessori-inspired EYLF classroom for less than one month.
Handling knives and other kitchen instruments helps develop children’s fine motor skills, which are crucial for the next stage of their educational development – primary school. The pincer grip is vital for holding a pencil, crayon or a pen. The concentration that he displayed when cutting a banana is the concentration that he will need when completing tasks in his next foundational year of primary school.
Olly was also able to cut the banana into enough slices to share with the class – demonstrating mathematical understanding at that basic level.
Further to this, preparing meals by themselves helps children focus on practical tasks and learn to be independent. This was an activity that Olly specifically wanted to do and that he found enjoyable. The sharing that Olly chose to do allowed him to demonstrate social interest and models positive behaviours to the other children around him.
Such a simple task really is an amazing insight into the development of a child, and it showcases all the fantastic benefits of combining Montessori learning with the Early Years Learning Framework. We can’t wait to share more of our journey and these stories with you. 🙂