Over the last couple of years children have been required to navigate the challenges of learning across two varied environments, both at home and in the classroom, and this experience looked different from school to school.

UNICEF discovered that globally, more than 1.6 billion children have suffered some loss of education in the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has made choosing the right school for your child more important than ever. Parents want to give their child the best opportunities to set them up for their future, so every education decision is an important one. Right from the beginning, choosing a Primary School is the first step to laying a secure educational foundation, so where do you start?

We’ve created a guide to help families navigate these intricate decisions including our tips for how to choose a Primary School in Melbourne, the significance of early education and our tips for creating a cohesive and consistent education journey for your child.

There are around 2277 schools in Victoria including independent schools and government schools, all with their own unique resources and capabilities, so how do you know which one is the right fit for your child?

Here are some important aspects to consider when choosing a Primary School for the early years of your child’s education.

How important is early education?

When children are around the age of eight-years-old they have already begun to develop an understanding of their self identity and their identity as a learner. Children will decide how valuable and competent they are in these early years and this belief becomes increasingly difficult to change the older they become. Often adults who viewed themselves as not particularly smart as children will still view themselves in the same light regardless of any achievements.

Children’s sense of self also directly impacts their ability to engage in activities. Children who have a positive outlook on themself are more likely to participate in social and academic activities, whereas children who have developed a more negative sense of self typically struggle in these environments due to their lack of confidence. As children spend a significant amount of time at school, it is crucial their education provides a safe and encouraging environment where they can feel supported to grow into more confident learners.

Furthermore, when it comes to education, families often buy into the idea that Senior School, especially Year 11 and 12, are the most important years of a student’s education. Whilst VCE is a very important step to further education, research shows that an “academically effective

Primary School gives children's development a significant boost” which combats the myth that Primary School is less important than Secondary School. In fact, Primary School is arguably the most important period of a child’s education as this is when children develop and solidify their identity as learners, which in turn impacts their future approach to learning.

During this important phase, children develop independence, social skills, communication and are introduced to skill learning which is exclusive to primary education. The accelerated development growth during this period of a child's life only adds to the urgency of choosing the right school, so how do you pick the right primary school for your child?

Setting the foundation for your child’s learning

When choosing the right primary school for your child, it’s important to understand that the decisions you make now could have an impact on decisions down the track, including the decisions around selecting a Secondary School.

We’ve collated several simple steps to help inform your decision when choosing a Kindergarten or Primary School for your child.

Factors to consider when choosing a Kindergarten or Primary School

  1. Your personal views, preferences and priorities when choosing a school.
    Remember your child’s educational needs may have changed over the last couple of years due to the major disruptions they experienced towards their learning.
  2. The teaching philosophy of the school.
    This will help to provide insight into the teachers’ approach to learning and help to define acceptable classroom behaviour.
  3. Are the classes single stream, composite or multi-age?
    Some children thrive in composite and multi-age classes as the younger students have older peers they can work alongside and the older students have the opportunity to be leaders. However, some children do prefer to be around others with similar learning abilities, it is about finding the best fit for your child’s needs.
  4. Does the school have programs for students who are either above or below the expected level?
    Children learn at different paces and it is important to know whether your child will be correctly supported, regardless if they need extra help or require more advanced work.
  5. What specialist classes do Preps participate in? What specialist classes are there beyond Prep?
    Specialist classes such as music can help promote memorisation, coordination, a sense of achievement and other benefits that can be carried across into other classes.
  6. Is wellbeing included in the curriculum? Are there any other wellbeing support offerings?
    By offering wellbeing classes and other areas of support in a school, children will begin to develop a deeper understanding of how to take care of themselves and others. This support will help students be more relaxed in class and promote confident learners.
  7. Research and utilise resources.
    There are useful resources such as the good schools guide to find a list of schools in your local area. Also talk to your child’s current teacher as they will have an in-depth understanding of your child’s educational needs.
  8. Attend school open days and ask plenty of questions.
  9. Consider the follow on effect for secondary school.
    Transitioning from Primary School to Secondary School can be daunting for some children. This can be made less overwhelming when children have attended a school that offers both primary and secondary education as the child is already aware of the school’s expectations and requirements.
  10. Learn about the enrollment process including deadlines and age requirements.
  11. Submit your application well in advance to ensure you secure your child’s place and avoid waitlists, we recommend 18 months to 2 years.

The years children spend in Primary School are formative to their development as learners. Our approach to learning is perfectly summarised by Pat Barbieri, Director of Early Learning at Toorak College, “when children experience a sense of security, belonging and sound wellbeing, they have the confidence to explore, the curiosity to question and the intrinsic motivation to learn.”

If you would like to learn more about our ELC to Year 12 program for your child, visit us online or book a campus tour to see if Toorak College could be a good fit for you and your family.

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