The first day of school is a big life moment. Seeing kids disappear under their new school hat and a huge backpack makes parents wonder if they’ve prepared little ones well enough for the challenges they’ll face at school. Cubby Care helps kids (and parents) make the big leap.
A recent Queensland University of Technology (QUT) study found Australian parents believe there are long-term benefits to waiting a year before starting their children at school. Dr Amanda Mergler and Professor Susan Walker from QUT’s Faculty of Education studied Australian parenting forums and school enrolment data and found that the number of parents who delayed their children’s school starts has nearly doubled since 2010.
“It is possibly one of the hardest decisions a parent has to make as to whether their child is ready to start school,” Dr Mergler says. “Parents wanted their child to have more maturity and be one of the oldest in the class, indicating this would help them deal with the issues that arise in high school, including peer pressure, drinking and remaining focused on studying.”
Research indicated that chronological age is considered more indicative of school readiness than individual development, and parents need more information about the expectations for entry-level school children. Programs like Cubby Care’s Early Start Program can provide a solution to the stress faced by parents and children before starting school. The Cubby Care program helps kids transition from preschool to school through language, music and physical activity.
Cubby Care Tarragindi Director Kate Edwards says, “singing and dancing, foreign language and yoga are just some of the ways children build skills and confidence for school.”
“The program is good because it’s not fixed like school is,” Kate explains. “It teaches children literacy, numeracy and language which children need for prep classes. We do pretty much everything through music because children learn better through singing and dancing.”
The QUT study also revealed that of the 1338 children who were delayed entry to Queensland state schools in 2014, 64 per cent were boys. Kate agrees that there is definitely a difference between the rate at which boys and girls develop.
“I held my own son back a year just because I didn’t feel he was emotionally ready,” she says. “Boys, maturity-wise, are a little bit behind girls and they often develop a little bit slower. They might be intelligent enough, but emotionally they’re often just not ready for school.”
The Cubby Care Early Start Program accommodates this difference through language and literacy. Encouraging children to talk about their thoughts and feelings helps them develop emotionally.
“We place a big emphasis on allowing children to do their own problem solving,” says Kate. “It’s really important for preparing them for school and life.”
Yoga is one of many activities the program offers, and Kate has seen a big difference in her students. “The boys never did it at the start but now that they do, they’re a lot calmer, less likely to react without thinking. I’ve seen them stop, breathe and think about their approach a lot more.”
Words: Anny White