In Queensland, the first year of full-time compulsory schooling is called the Preparatory Year or, as it is affectionately referred to by those who live in Queensland – Prep. If you have little ones who will soon be embarking on their schooling journey, you may have a few questions about what they can expect in their first year. To help out, we have answered some of the most common questions we hear regarding what Prep is in Queensland.
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What is Prep?
Prep is the first official year of schooling and provides the foundation to your child’s education. It is the start of the early learning stage (which continues until Year 2). As it is part of the Australian School Curriculum, Prep is offered in all Queensland state primary schools as well as most non-state primary schools. Prep is a full-time program with a defined curriculum, with children attending Monday to Friday, generally from 9am to 3pm.
Is Prep compulsory in Queensland?
Yes. It is compulsory for Queensland children to undertake Prep before Year 1.
What is the enrolment age for prep in Queensland?
To enrol in the prep year in a Queensland school, your child must have turned 5 by the 30th June in the year they enrol. If you are a little unsure, there is a handy online calculator that you can use to confirm when your child is eligible to start Prep. Simply select your child’s month and year of birth and the calculator will let you know the year they can enrol.
Can my child enrol earlier or later than the year suggested?
The short answer is yes. Although Prep is a compulsory educational requirement, there is some flexibility around when you can start your child. Depending on their own individual development, there can be advantages to both delaying their enrolment year or indeed starting them a little earlier. If you think this may be the best route for your child, there are guidelines you will need to be aware of below that will help you determine if this will be possible.
Early Enrolment in Prep
Early entry to Prep is a lot harder to achieve than a delayed entry. Early entry to Prep is only possible if the child meets all the legislative conditions in Part 4, Section 17 of the Education (General Provisions) Regulation 2017.
A child who is younger than the prescribed age for Prep is only able to commence school early if:
- They turn five years by 31 July in the year they propose to attend Prep, and the school principal is satisfied that the child is ready for education in the Prep year
- They have started education in another state or country equivalent to the Prep year and the school principal is satisfied that the child is ready for education in the Prep year.
Delaying Enrolment in Prep
When delaying your child’s entry to prep (and subsequently grade 1) the process is a little different. Whilst you may want to discuss your reasons for wanting to delay your child’s enrolment into Prep with their current kindergarten teacher or future school Principal, at the end of the day, the decision to do so can be the parents’ choice alone. No formal documentation or assessment is required. In most cases, the reason for delaying starting prep is because a parent feels their child is still developing their social and emotional skills. Often, this may even be recommended by their current care provider or teacher.
You can delay their entry by one year if you feel they are not ready, but when they start school, they should still start in the Prep year. Your child must be enrolled in school when they turn compulsory schooling age (at least 6 years and 6 months).
Many times, if a child is not quite ready at the end of their prep year to move up to year 1, the teacher may recommend they repeat the prep year. You can read up on some of the pros and cons of repeating prep here.
If you feel your child might not be ready, here are our tips on what to do if your child is not ready to start prep.
Just note: That while there are guidelines around the prep year and to a certain degree, you can make the decision for your own child, it does not mean that you will not get push back. Welcome to the list of advocating for your child – this won’t be the first or the last time.
How do I enrol my child in Prep?
As Prep is universally available, there are no waiting lists for enrolment in Prep at state schools. Even so, it is recommended that you enrol in your local school in the year before they are due to start (if not earlier). Some state schools may have an enrolment management plan in place, which means students may not be able to attend unless they live within the designated catchment area.
If you are hoping to enrol your child in a private school or a state school that is outside of your catchment area, it is advised that you contact the school directly as early as possible to find out what requirements you may need to meet to enrol your child with them.
What will your child learn in prep?
The Prep year in Queensland is an excellent introduction to schooling for kids, where they will be given opportunities to learn in various ways. This includes active learning such as play-based and enquiry-based approaches. They make decisions, solve problems, develop thinking skills, collaborate, communicate and develop a positive sense of self.
Prep provides the foundation for your child’s success at school by developing:
- the knowledge, understanding and skills detailed in the Australian Curriculum for English, mathematics, science and history (Foundation Year)
- a positive approach to learning
- independence and confidence
- creativity and problem-solving skills
- physical abilities, including gross and fine motor skills.
Children learn about:
- speaking, listening, reading and writing
- mathematics and problem solving
- science, exploring interesting and important questions about the biological, physical and technological world
- history, examining and enquiring about the past to develop curiosity and imagination.
Prep children also learn about:
- negotiating rights, roles and responsibilities and developing social skills for working and playing with others
- diverse social and cultural practices of people in their community
- making healthy choices
- experimenting with materials in a variety of creative, imaginative and innovative ways
- technology in everyday life
- music and movement.
How to prepare your child for prep
The prospect of your little one heading out on their first year of official schooling can be daunting, not just for your child but quite often for you too! You can help your child prepare themselves in many small ways, though. Some ideas for getting your child excited about starting prep include:
- Familiarise your child with their new school.
- Connect with new school friends over the holidays.
- Take your child on a special trip to buy their new school items.
- Get them to help you label and personalise their new school items.
- Start to get them into a similar daily routine a couple of weeks before starting.
- Get them to speak with older siblings or friends with kids who have started school or will be going to their school.
You can read out the full article on Getting Your Child Excited About Starting Prep here.
More Tips for Prep Parents
If your child is heading into prep and you are looking for more tools and ways to enhance their experience then you may also be interested in these articles: