Joining Kindergarten at primary school for the first time can be a daunting experience for parents, let alone the children!
It's a big leap from daycare and all of us who have been there before you know fear of the unknown can be hard. Especially so if you have not lived in the area for long and may not know many people. This latest period of COVID makes it all the more challenging.
2022 Year 2 and Year 1 families have never known a "normal year at school" - so please know, if this year doesn't go to plan, you are not alone!
The P&C business is run by a group of volunteer parents and we want to help other families where ever we can, so here are a few insider tips;
Knowing your orientation would be different (normally on masse, on site!), the teachers built a little Kindy 2022 orientation website - you can find it here
What skills does your child really need to start school? We're not teachers but based on recent parent experience, we say they need to be able to read their own name and ideally write it to some extent. To be able to go to the toilet by
themselves for number 2s especially - time to perfect bum wiping techniques! The Kids are sent to the toilet with a friend but generally not an adult. Hand washing - important now more than ever. The other academic stuff, they will learn. Personal skills are more important.
Make sure they can open their lunch boxes and although you may have worked hard to teach little one to eat a whole apple the reality is fruit often needs to be cut up and peeled (eg oranges) due to time and distractions. Time to eat is super fast & some slower eaters end up hungry.
Lunch/snacks - You must provide Fruit or healthy snacks every day for fruit break, a snack for recess and lunch item(s). Beware! Lunchtime is very late. Hanger is real. If you forget your child's lunch they will be offered a basic sandwich from the canteen, for which you'll be charged on your account.
Drop off tears - if your child is one who struggles to let go of you, it might help to know that many children do this and whilst it may pass quickly, some will be that way for a long time. You'll see kids strutting in without a backward glance but plenty are really challenged at the gate. It's okay. They will be just fine once they get into school, with a little friend and one of the lovely Kindy Teachers to help them feel better. If you can arrange to meet a friend at the gate this really helps.
Best Start - your little one will start classes a bit later than the older children, during this time you will have booked in their Best Start appointment. This isn't an exam they can fail, its a 1:1 friendly chat with the teacher so they can be sure to get a head start on how best to support your child in their first days of school. Its very exciting and nothing to worry about!
Stationary - Here is the list provided by the school. You only need what's on this list - don't send more! Since this list is for classroom use you don't need to label these items as it will be communal. You don't need to take it on your first day either best to focus on getting in through the gates.
Kindy Playground & "the Silver Seats"- All the Kindy children have their own playground and toilets. The amazing play equipment in the top area (paid for by P&C fundraising!) is only used by Kindy (& OOSH), so although it's a big school and there are heaps of bigger kids, Kindy little ones can feel safe in their own space. You'll hear a lot about "the silver seats"! You can't miss the silver benches under cover inside the Kindy playground area.
Pick up and drop off - Use Corella street gate which leads directly onto the Kindy-only playground area. When not in COVID restrictions, Kindy parents can wait in the playground for little ones to come out. Kindy finishes at 3pm but the rest of the school finishes at 3.05pm. Teachers do wait with the children but there are a lot of kids, if you're going to be late you might want to ask another parent to wait with your child.
"Meet the teacher" parents information session - The school will advise the date for the Parents intro session where you get to meet the teacher & be told some more details about what the kids will be learning. You'll also be asked to sign up for the class communication group and anyone who would like to volunteer as Class Parent can do so at this session. The class parent will be given everyone's contact details in order to set up the class communication groups.
Class Parent & communication groups - The Class parent is an important volunteer role where the parent would like to take responsibility for communicating messages from the teacher and P&C, to the other parents, being proactively helpful to send reminders & share information, and to organise social gatherings outside school. Some parents are not interested in socialising with other families, that's your choice but be sure you're connected to the class parent group to receive important communication from your child's teacher. Only volunteer to be class parent if you can happily spend the time needed to do the job - in these Covid times especially this role can be busy!
Uniform - Label EVERYTHING that is removable (incl shoes!) it WILL GET LOST! Everyone's stuff looks the same. Buy multiples of things - use the Secondhand Uniform shop to help with affordable spares. If your child does lose something, be sure to check the lost property. We have piles of unclaimed items every term. You will lose hats, many hats. You must have spares due to no-hat no-play rule.
We have a new and used uniform shop on site at school. All profits go back to the school via the P&C. The team do an amazing job, including adding new & environmentally friendly garments and packaging. Used uniforms can also be bought from our used shop for a small donation fee. Great bargains to be had!
Order new uniforms on line only harborduniforms.com.au
P&C Facebook page - COVID has changed everything and being able to communicate with parents outside the School Executive channels has never been more important. There are things the P&C can quickly convey (one parent to another), with the support of the school, which the School sometimes can't due to DoE policy and the best way for you to get these messages is to like and follow us on Facebook.
Parent community 2022 starters Facebook Page - join this unofficial page. Ask questions, organise meet ups. Your chid will move classes every year - they will only be with a couple of kids from the previous year so whilst you want to get to know the families in your class this year, your whole year group is in it together, stay in touch.
Become a member of the Harbord P&C, this means we can share news with you (as noted above) and you will hear important updates to projects, changes to the school, fundraising/spending and more. You can cast votes on important school matters during monthly meetings, however becoming a member does not commit you to doing anything! We do ask for help from our 1,000+ student community from time to time but this is of course totally voluntary. The P&C run OOSH, the Canteen and the Uniform shop, which we employ paid staff to run.
Check out our website harbordpandc.com.au
OOSH Harbord School Out Of School Hours care- is an exceeds rated
childcare facility. It's run by the P&C (not the school) and child care subsidies can be applied to your fees. Preference is given to working parents but in this Working From Home climate, places are still available. The children enjoy structured and free playtime with their peers, delicious snacks from the OOSH kitchen and get to participate in many fun activities. For the first few months, OOSH staff will collect your Kindy child from their classroom at 3pm and take them to their OOSH room.
Check out www.harbordoosh.com.au
Technology! There are a few apps & websites to get across and I found the initial list overwhelming. Really, you only need the Flexischools app to order food from the canteen and the Skoolbag app to keep track of the many messages from the school. They do come via email but it's easy to loose them. Some Kindy teachers use ClassDojo but only some - so wait until they ask you to log in (since you may not need to) likewise other online learning apps. OOSH families need the Xplor app. Just search for the apps on your app store.
Teachers - most important last. The Kindy teachers are lovely! As you would expect they will have a different relationship with your child than Daycare Educators, but they are all very caring and love working with the little ones. Many children grow very fond of their Kindy teacher very quickly!
The above is just a personal account from current parents and every child is different but we hope this helps some of you who are starting out at HPS.
From all of us, WELCOME!