What to expect

What to expect in your child’s first weeks in a mainstream school


Many schools will have staggered starts for kindergarten children. This usually means that kindergarten children start on a different day to other students. In some schools, kindergarten students may start with shorter days in the first week of school.

You may wish to think about how your child might react in their first week/s at school and whether a gradual start may be helpful for your child.


Best Start Assessments
At some schools, kindergarten children will do an assessment called “Best Start” on one of their first days at school.

The Best Start initiative is intended to ensure that all students are on the right track in their literacy and numeracy learning by Year 3. The Best Start Kindergarten Assessment is designed to provide teachers’ with knowledge of where each child’s literacy and numeracy skills are at the beginning of kindergarten. This is so they can plan teaching and learning around children’s needs.

All children have the opportunity to participate. Teachers of students with confirmed disabilities and/or special needs get additional support to build a profile of the child. This helps them to plan quality learning programmes for these students.

Specific information about how the assessment may be adapted for children with identified disabilities or additional needs can be found by clicking here.

What is likely to happen at school in the first week
In many kindergarten classrooms, the initial week will involve:

  • teachers emphasising the children’s social skills and getting to know all the children and their learning styles
  • children:
    • doing a combination of structured activities (such as listening to a story at their desks) and unstructured activities such as free play
    • learning to move around the classroom in what are often referred to as “rotations” where groups of children complete activities and then move to another area in the room to complete another activity
    • becoming familiar with the routines, rules and expectations at school

Expectations and classroom rules such as the 5 L’s of listening (legs still, hands in your lap, lips closed, look at the teacher and listen with your ears) may be taught in group lessons with visual support.

Click here for a link to a video about what happens in mainstream kindergarten including children showing and talking about their school day.

What will my child be taught at school?
Teachers in all NSW schools are required to teach a range of subject areas which are also known as Key Learning Areas or KLAs. These KLAs incorporate the national curriculum.
The 6 Key Learning Areas taught in NSW schools are:
• English (also referred to as literacy)
• Mathematics (also referred to as numeracy)
• Science and Technology
• Human Society and its Environment (HSIE)
• Creative Arts (including visual and performing arts such as drama and music)
• Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE)

For ideas on preparing your child for school click here.

How your child might behave after school in the early days
The school routine differs from early childhood education and care settings and home, in terms of structure, routine and expectations.

This means that most children will be very tired at the end of the school day. It is quite common for children to show or act out their tiredness and emotions when they return to the security of their own home and family. This can occur even when their day at school has gone relatively smoothly.

Many families report that limiting their expectations and commitments after school in the first year is helpful. See also calming activities for before and after school.