Dr Lyn Cronin, a researcher and teacher in early childhood at UOW’s Early Start and School of Education

Expert tips on getting kids ready for ‘big school’

Expert tips on getting kids ready for ‘big school’

Public talk looks at preparing children and families for their first year of school

University of Wollongong school readiness expert Dr Lyn Cronin will present a public talk on transitioning children into the first year of formal schooling, on Wednesday 11 March.

Preparing for “big school” is an exciting yet daunting time for many children and their families. In her talk, Dr Cronin will take an in-depth look at all aspects of the transition and provide practical advice on how to prepare for a positive and successful start to big school – for both the child and their family.

The talk is the first in the 2020 Early Start Speaker Series, and will be of particular interest to families with a child starting school in 2021.

The talk will inform parents about what they can do to support their child’s successful start to school, including academically, emotionally, socially and physically.

Dr Cronin is a researcher and teacher in early childhood at UOW’s Early Start and School of Education, specialising in transition to school and in literacy.  She is passionate about early learning, particularly how young children develop literacy skills and understandings, and a strong advocate for children’s right to have a say in matters that affect them.

Dr Cronin said it was important to take a holistic approach to preparing for a child’s first year of formal schooling.

“A holistic approach to school readiness means considering all aspects of setting children and families up for a positive start to school,” Dr Cronin said. 

“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.”

One of the challenges, Dr Cronin said, is knowing what being ready for school looks like for children and families.

“This may look different for all children and families and is dependent on the individual child, their particular context and that of the school,” she said.

“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 know and bring to their new school community.”

She said that play was an important but often overlooked way for children to prepare for school.

“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,” Dr Cronin said.

“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 not only supports children intellectually, but socially, physically, creatively and their overall wellbeing.”

Other topics that Dr Cronin will cover in her talk include:  the ‘holding back’ debate – what parents need to know; and what primary school teachers believe is important for children as they start school.

There will be time allocated for questions at the conclusion of the presentation.

When: 6pm - 7.30pm, Wednesday 11 March

Where: Building 67 Room 104, University of Wollongong main campus

Further details are available on the Early Start Discovery Space website.