What does a good prep school program include?

What does a good prep school program include?

If you have a 3- or 4-year-old at home, you’ve probably started thinking about enrolling them in a prep school or preschool program to help get them ready for the transition into big school. While there are plenty of programs out there, the quality can vary drastically from one centre to the next. So what should you look for in a good prep school program? Read on to find out. 


Why is preschool good for children?

Pre-school or prep school programs are specially designed for children aged from either 3 or 4 years, up to 6 years old, in order to prepare them for their first year of formal schooling. Research has shown that attending a quality pre or prep school program sets children up for success, not only in primary school but well into their higher education and even their future employment and social skills as an adult. On a practical level, preschool provides a nurturing and structured learning environment where children can work on things like:

  • Learning foundational literacy and numeracy concepts
  • Developing communication and social skills
  • Creating friendships with peers and positive relationships with educators
  • Improving fine motor skills that are needed for school (e.g. holding a pencil or cutting with scissors)
  • Developing confidence and independence
  • Learning self-care skills such as getting out their own lunch box, putting on their shoes and hat, or washing their hands thoroughly
  • Getting used to the structure of the school day and the concept of following instructions, listening to the teacher, following rules, etc. 


What is included in a good prep school program?

There are plenty of prep school and preschool programs available across the country, but not all programs are created equal. While every centre will need to follow the Early Years Learning Framework which covers the core requirements, the more well-researched, well-resourced, and expertly executed programs will leave children even better prepared for their first year of schooling.  So what should you look for in a high-quality prep school program?


Expert input from a qualified teacher

Nobody understands the requirements of the first year of Primary School quite like a Kindergarten teacher. This is why the best prep school programs will be designed in close consultation with an experienced Primary School teacher with a special interest in school preparation. Their expert insights can help tailor the program to tackle some of the more subtle or often overlooked aspects of school readiness that can make a big difference to a child’s experience of transitioning into Kindergarten.


An emphasis on literacy and numeracy 

A well-designed prep school program will integrate literacy and numeracy experiences throughout the broader educational program (through incidental learning), and will also teach these skills explicitly through engaging, well-designed educational activities. The program should include activities that teach topics such as spatial awareness, shape and colour recognition, reading a clock, and simple addition.


Phonics awareness

Learning to read is absolutely foundational to school success and entering Kindergarten with a good grasp of phonics can give kids a significant boost. A good prep school program will include a specialised phonics program that ensures that children can both recognise the letters of the alphabet and identify their sounds and place in words. This will accelerate their development of reading and word recognition, giving them a strong foundation to build on when they start school. 


Use of modern technology

While there’s no substitute for hands-on learning through play, sensory exploration, and physical movement, modern information technologies such as interactive smart boards and iPads can both enhance learning and help prepare children for the school environment. A good prep school program should have a good balance of play-based activities and technology-led learning experiences.


Attention to these seven key areas:

A good prep school program should have specific learning activities and resources dedicated to the development of these seven key skill sets:

  • Social skills – examples include turn-taking, sharing with peers, following rules, listening during group times
  • Emotional skills – examples include developing autonomy and self-confidence, practising empathy and care for peers, becoming comfortable with separating from caregivers 
  • Physical skills – examples include being able to run, climb, balance, use coordinated movements, throw and catch a ball, etc. 
  • Fine Motor skills – examples include being able to use a pincer grip to hold a pencil and draw and use scissors. 
  • Language skills – examples include the ability to answer questions appropriately, hold a conversation, follow directions and make requests.  
  • Cognitive skills – examples include the ability to sort, identify shapes and colours, count, and write their own name. 
  • Self-help skills – examples include being able to go to the toilet independently, taking responsibility for their own belongings, and tidying up after themselves. 


These skills will be skillfully targeted through specially designed play-based activities ranging from arts and crafts, puzzles, and sensory activities all the way through to imaginative play, singing, dancing, and storytelling.


Fun and play

Of course, at the heart of any good prep school program is a sense of fun. It’s well known that young children learn best through play; therefore, a curriculum that focuses on engaging children’s natural sense of curiosity and wonder through exciting and interesting activities will always be more effective. Any prep program or centre you consider should have an emphasis on fun, play, and enjoyment.


Mini Masterminds Prep Program

At Mini Masterminds, we are proud to offer an absolutely exceptional prep program, which has been carefully designed in consultation with an experienced Primary School Teacher, Mr Camilleri. Our program perfectly integrates foundational literacy and numeracy skills, phonics awareness, and skills from the seven key skill sets, using modern technology and our wide range of extra-curricular offerings to enhance learning along the way. To find out more about our prep school program, or to enquire about enrolment, contact us today.

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