Five Things Every Parent Should Know Before Their Child Starts Kindy, According to an Early Childhood Teacher
Megan’s 30-year career working in early childhood education was inspired by one of her own first educators.
“My teacher Mrs Parry was awesome, and I wanted to be just like her one day. I think Mrs Parry absolutely had a significant influence in helping me decide later what I wanted to be.”
Now having entered her fourth decade working in long day care and community kindergarten – as well as her seventeenth year alone with Brisbane’s Lady Gowrie Child Centre – Megan knows just how important the kindergarten period is for both parents/carers and their kids before starting school.
Megan tells Mamamia that a family’s access to suitable kindy services in their local area, largely impact the pathway for a child’s smooth transition into Prep.
She also welcomes the recent update that eligible Queensland-based parents and carers now have access to kindy savings under the state government’s new Queensland Kindergarten Funding, which commenced 1 Jan 2023, and newly announced Free Kindergarten for Queensland kids in 2024.
Whether a child in Queensland attends kindy in a sessional kindergarten or in a long day care, it may be fee-free, or cheaper, if their family is eligible for Kindy Plus or if they receive Family Tax Benefit (FTB).
“It’s no secret that the cost of living pressures is affecting families. Having this funding takes pressure off families who want to give their children the best start in life with quality education and care programs.
“They can make their child’s needs and interests a priority and not have to compromise because of their financial situation.”
From her experience, Megan tells Mamamia the 5 things she wants every parent to know before their child starts kindy.
1. Educators really work to understand your child’s needs
“Kindergarten aged children are very inquisitive and interesting. Every day is a new adventure in the classroom and children have the autonomy and voice to navigate their own learning, however there is also an intentionality in how teachers support learning through play.
“As teachers, we use the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and the Queensland kindergarten learning guideline (QKLG). They are two documents that underpin all that we do so that children become lifelong learners.”
2. Educators tailor learning to the uniqueness of each child
As an educator and parent herself, Megan is familiar from both lenses on the things that matter to parents and carers.
“Based on experience of talking to parents and carers over the years, many can wonder: ‘Will the educators respect the uniqueness of my child and my voice as a parent?’ I’ve always made it my role to reassure them that they are in fact the child’s first and most important teacher, and this is always respected when welcoming children to kindy.”
Megan also shares that families have often been curious to know if their family and culture will be respected and integrated. “It’s an important question we receive on behalf of parents about their child: ‘Can I see that I belong in this space?'”
Educators are conscious of ensuring children and parents have access to an environment where they feel represented and respected.
3. Help encourage your child to love learning
Megan highlights the benefits of having a child engaged and supported in their learning. “To encourage their love of learning, and to give children the time and space to develop curiosity and confidence has huge positive impacts.”
Children require a toolbox of strategies and skills for problem solving, persistence and experimentation – all of which can strongly develop through kindy education.
“For example, having the confidence and courage to ask about something they might not understand, comes from a growth mindset perspective. Having the courage to try new experiences and having a strong self-identity to know that they are confident and competent learners is such an important goal we’re working towards.”
4. Ask your social networks about their kindy experiences
Megan encourages parents to find out through friends and family who have attended a kindergarten in the area how they found their experiences.
As we encourage children to be curious, we as parents and carers should also be curious about researching and comparing our child’s education providers.
Megan’s top tips for finding the right kindergarten (and to help the transition) include:
- Talking to other parents to seek their thoughts and real-life insights
- Organise play dates with children you know will be attending kindergarten
- Call a few different services and ask if you can come in for a tour and meet the educators. (“There is nothing like seeing the environment first-hand and having a conversation with teachers and educators to gauge whether you feel this is the right service for you,” Megan shares.)
- Attend open days and community events
- Most importantly, talk positively about kindy with your child and in other social settings
5. Know the government and state resources for your area
Becoming familiar with information provided locally and state-wide for your area can be hugely helpful. It’s also crucial to know the subsidies your family may be entitled to.
In Queensland, you can check your eligibility for the new kindy subsidies on the Queensland Government’s Kindy savings web page.
The website also has information for families where English is not their first language, and services can access interpreters for additional support.
Under the new kindy savings, more children can access “quality educational programs delivered by four-year trained, university qualified early childhood professionals who support, scaffold and guide children’s learning journey throughout the year.”
As your child reaches this next exciting milestone, Megan wants parents and carers to remember, at this stage of their life: talk, play, engage and listen to your child. “This helps them to build confidence as learners, which can help make change and starting in new environments easier.”
“This can be done in a myriad of ways around home: when walking in nature, riding in the car, sitting at the table having dinner together or reading books at night. I’m a big advocate of joining the local library and borrowing books regularly. Children have the opportunity to talk with the librarian or staff about what topics they’re interested in, too!”
“You are your child’s first educator, and the rest is building on that beautiful foundation you have created in your little one’s life, before they head out into the world.”