BY FIVE: Making school transition better for families in Yarriambiack Shire17/12/2019
Starting school can be a concerning time for parents and children, but work is now underway in northern Yarriambiack Shire to make that transition as positive and smooth as possible.
Early Years Coordinator with Yarriambiack Shire Glenda Hewitt was one of ten people from the local area to attend a series of training days run earlier this year in Horsham by the Bastow Institute.
The training, part of the Wimmera Southern Mallee (WSM)Early Years Project, or BY FIVE, covered continuity of learning and got the group from Yarriambiack Shire discussing how their children – particularly those who may be more vulnerable - transitioned from kinder to school.
“We are now looking at how to make that transition better for all families,” says Mrs Hewitt, who adds that they are looking at a year of transition activities before children enter Prep.
“We don’t want to be intrusive on the kinder year but we want to normalise the transition,” she explains, adding that they are aiming for children and families to be familiar with the local schools long before Prep starts.
Among the initiatives under discussion are casual “Principal in the Park” events, with a chance for new parents to meet school principals, as well as information nights for parents on school readiness. There is a real focus on including dads in the transition process, and all children and their families.
“It’s important that children are familiar with the schools and feel comfortable from day one,” explains Mrs Hewitt.
The initiative is running in the five primary schools and three kinders in Warracknabeal, Hopetoun and Beulah.
The plan eventually, explains Mrs Hewitt, is to extend the program to look at how children enter kinder from early years settings.
The BY FIVE project is one of the first Wimmera Southern Mallee (WSM) Regional Partnership-driven projects to get off the ground and is a partnership with the Department of Education and Training (DET) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), with support from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.
The project came out of the Regional Partnership Assembly process with the WSM community identifying in 2016 that improving early years’ outcomes in the region was a major priority.
BY FIVE is working in five clusters in the region – including in Yarriambiack Shire– to see where improvements can be made to ensure early years services in each community are joined up and working effectively for families and children. It is seeking bespoke place-based solutions to meet local needs.