Positive year ahead for preps

Prep teacher Olivia Cook meets parents and students at the classroom door. Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS 227004_18

By Danielle Kutchel

This year’s preps are entering the classroom after a kinder year like no other – but one Berwick teacher says educators and schools are well prepared to iron out any bumps in the transition.

Olivia Cook, a prep teacher at Berwick Lodge Primary School, said she’s sure that teachers and schools across the state will “be working extra hard this year to make up for that loss last year”.

The newest cohort of preps haven’t had the benefit of meeting their teacher as they normally would, and have also had to work through a disrupted year of kinder – only receiving around six months of kindergarten education to prepare them for the next stage of their lives.

Nevertheless, Ms Cook said her class had settled in well after their first day and were already showing signs of independence.

“We were a little bit on the back foot because we haven’t met them and haven’t formed some sort of rapport or connection with them coming into the year,” she explained.

“It’s been a bit of a challenge, but … we were pleasantly surprised with the preps and how they handled their first day.

“It was pretty daunting for them I guess, coming into a classroom and meeting a teacher for the first time without their parents coming into the room.”

Ms Cook said the challenge now for teachers would be to identify where kids are at and develop a program to boost them.

She said at Berwick Lodge, teachers are focused on building on the skills students did pick up during kinder and bringing them up to speed.

“Missing out on a lot of kinder last year, that’s a lot of social interaction with friends and learning how to resolve conflicts, how to establish and maintain friendships (that has been missed),” she explained.

“We aim to do a lot of play-based learning in the afternoons so they get a lot of social interaction with their peers and also with their teacher to establish that connection early on.”

While it may have been daunting for children, Ms Cook said the return to the classroom was also strange for teachers – but fortunately, it didn’t take long to settle back in.

And after a year that no one saw coming, she said teachers are confident that if Victoria heads back into lockdown, they know what to do.

“We have all developed our IT skills in how to teach remotely, which has been a positive that’s come out of all of this because we’ve learnt a different way to teach and a different way to engage the kids.

“It’s always in the back of our minds – ‘is it going to happen again this year?’ – but if it does, we’re ready to go.”

She also moved to soothe any prep-parent blues.

“I think it’s going to be a good year – most families are really positive about a fresh start.”