Cessnock Community of Great Public Schools (CCGPS)

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School readiness

How do I know if my child is ready to start school?

Children may enrol in Kindergarten at the beginning of the school year if they turn five years of age on or before 31 July in that year.

All children must be enrolled in school by their sixth birthday. Talk to your early childhood educators, carer or doctor. Are they physically ready? Are they socially and emotionally ready? Kids don't need to read or write before they start school, they don't need to know the alphabet or tie their shoelaces.

Visit your local school and attend orientation days before you decide. Talk to the teachers in your local school. Our teachers are trained to work with your child regardless of their age or level of development.

Aboriginal families may also seek support through the local AECG.

How can you help your child to be "ready" for school?            

Parents/caregivers can do a lot to help prepare their child for Kindergarten before the big 'first day'. Below is a list of skills that will be useful for children starting Kindergarten. We recognise that not all children will have these skills as everyone develops at a different pace, so this is intended only as a guide so that starting school might just be a little easier.

Encourage your child to attempt the things mentioned below, but don't worry if your child can't do all of them. Talk to the Kindergarten teacher, and together you can support and assist your child's learning.

The following are some suggestions on ways to help your child in a specific area of learning.


Here are some suggestions to help your child develop language skills:

  • talk to other people about familiar objects and events
  • answer and asks simple questions
  • make needs known
  • follow simple instructions
  • use books for enjoyment or for looking at pictures
  • identify pictures in books, magazines, on television or video
  • use a variety of things (pens, pencils, textas, paintbrushes, sticks in the dirt) to draw, to scribble or to write
  • join in singing familiar songs


Here are some suggestions to help your child develop skills in mathematics:

  • recognise that numbers can be used to count  - uses words such as many, a lot, more, less
  • identify things in a group that are different
  • see differences in shapes
  • differentiate between opposites - up and down, under and over, in front and behind, day and night

Physical skills

Here are some suggestions to help your child develop physical coordination:

  • use scissors to cut along a straight line
  • enjoy a variety of indoor and outdoor play
  • can put on and take off jumpers, shoes, socks independently
  • make and design things using a variety of materials

School transition and orientation programs

Parents play an important role in ensuring their child has a successful start to school. In the months leading up to school entry, families are encouraged to meet with school staff. 

What can parents do to help with the transition process?

Here are some suggestions to help your child through the transition process:

  • Talk to your child about the types of things they can do to express their needs.
  • Use photos to help your child become familiar with the school environment as well as routines.
  • Have positive conversations with your child about school; talk about the types of things they will get to do, routines, special things like bus trips, friendships and so on.
  • Make school-based friendship groups so that your child has familiar people around them when they start school.

Make contact with the school as early as possible and be involved as much as you can.  Ask grandparents along to visits where possible so that they can have positive conversations with your child as well.

For more help, go to our Transitions page.

When to enrol

Kindergarten enrolment begins around April the year before your child will start Kindergarten. Schools will often advertise when they are taking enrolments or you can contact the school you are interested in attending to find out about enrolling your child.  It is good to let your local school know your intention to enrol as early as possible as schools will often try to involve you and your child in early transition activities including family picnics and book fairs.

Most schools have orientation days towards the end of the previous year to welcome children to Kindergarten. Many schools also have transition to Kindergarten programs over several weeks in the second part of the year. Contact your local school for more details.

Best start

Children develop at different rates and learn skills in different ways. It is the school's task to respond to the needs, learning styles and rates of progress of individual students. Schools also plan learning experiences based on the skills students bring to school. 

The purpose of the Kindergarten Best Start process is to provide information for Kindergarten teachers to:

  • build on each child's current knowledge and experiences in literacy and numeracy 
  • develop quality teaching and learning programs that support students in achieving Early stage 1 syllabus outcomes.

Best Start has special accommodations for children with disabilities.

For more information, go to our Assessment page on the Best Start program.

Children with disabilities

Specialist advice and support are available to parents/caregivers of children with disabilities to help them access appropriate educational services. Talk to the school as early as possible about these services. Specialist support is available to students with a vision/hearing loss.  Support can begin prior to school in some circumstances.

Across NSW, the Department of Education and Communities (DEC) provides a wide range of services to support students who have special needs.

 As a parent or carer of a child with a confirmed disability you can consider the following educational options:

  • Your local school.
  • A special class in a regular school.
  • A special school (School for Specific Purposes)

Other things you can do to help your child

Social/Emotional/Personal Development

Here are some suggestions to help your child with their personal development:

  • set up play dates for your child to play with a friend
  • have time away from parents with carers, grandparents, friends and so on
  • show them what resilience looks like
  • encourage them to pack and carry their own bag to childcare
  • allow them to make some of the decisions, like - what the family will have for tea (healthy options), what clothes they would like to wear and more
  • have family play-time ... and get into character
  • organise a picnic with a packed lunch and encourage your child to open it and eat the  food by themselves
  • encourage your child to do simple things for themselves, like blowing their own nose, pulling on their own socks and many other things
  • encourage your child to help with simple household tasks like setting the table, watering plants, helping to unpack groceries, helping siblings and various others.

...and give them lots of praise for trying!

Language skills

Here are some more suggestions to help your child with their language skills:

  • read as much as you can - everything from books to recipes to signs and posters etc.
  • talk with your child as often as you can about anything and everything
  • ask deep questions, and don't just settle for just a "yes" or "no" answer
  • tell them family stories and make memories
  • make memory books using photos from trips etc and let your child tell you the story
  • play make believe and use fantastical words 
  • give your child simple instructions to follow; build on this over time to make the tasks more complex
  • recite nursery rhymes, leave words out of favourite stories and let kids fill the gaps, sing together
  • use post-it notes ..for everything!


Here are some suggestions to help your child develop their number sense:

  • count everything by 1s, 2s, 5s and 10s and backwards again
  • talk about time, the days of the week, the months and the seasons
  • talk about measurements and quantities such as when using recipes, the volume of water in the bath or quantities when playing in the sandpit and others
  • experiment to see what floats and sinks and why
  • look at the shapes of things and ask questions, what rolls? what stacks?
  • build with blocks and talk about why certain structures are steady and why others are not
  • provide opportunities to handle money
  • play cards and board games
  • sort socks
  • make patterns with beads, sounds, shapes, sizes and other materials.

Physical skill development

Here are some ways to help your child with their physical development:

  • choose activities which strengthen and refine fine motor control, including drawing, stamping, finger painting, play-dough, cutting, tearing, scrunching, beading, stickers and so on.
  • take a ball to a park to throw, catch and kick together
  • walk your child along a low wall
  • sit together doing activities like card games, puzzles etc for extended periods of time (children may be required to sit for extended periods of time in class and this is a skill/behaviour that they need to learn over time)
  • play observation games to strengthen visual and aural skills such as I Spy, "Spot What", "Kim's Game", "Snap" and "Guess what I am?"

A child's first steps through the school gates are momentous. They leave behind the relationships, routines and structures of early childhood education and care settings and step into a brand-new environment. It is an important milestone for parents, children and educators alike and the "big move" should be as easy and smooth as possible.