There are many benefits to the co-location and close working relationship between Gowrie Docklands Kindergarten and Docklands Primary School. Adam Shrivell is the Service Leader at Gowrie Docklands Kindergarten.  At the start of the new term, he and some of the teachers reflect on the children moving from kinder to school.

Where do the children go after their kinder year? How do the children go after their kinder year?

Year after year of teaching four-year-old kinder groups, this always feels a bit of an unknown. The efforts to get children “school ready” ends with a tearful and joyous goodbye in December. And then a re-set button is pushed, and it all starts again with a new group.

Last week, I had the pleasure of greeting new kinder families at the gate during our first week of sessional kinder. At the same time the school’s Vice Principal has been at the gate greeting the school children for their first days. I saw so many of our 50+ children confidently entering into the school and so many of those proud (and relieved) parents taking the time to let me know how their children are faring.

Gowrie Docklands Kindergarten is situated on the first floor of the Docklands Primary School. Both the school and the kindergarten opened their doors at the start of Term One in 2021. One year later, what has this connection between the kinder and the school meant for teachers and educators? Quite a bit as it turns out.

Photo (left to right): Jaclyn Dominey – Docklands Primary School Prep teacher, Prep student, Prep student, Jacque Rome – Gowrie Docklands Kindergarten Early Childhood Teacher

Jacque Rome is an Early Childhood Teacher at the Kinder

“Seeing them in the playground, calling out to us to say hello. Its lovely to see them confident and how they have grown. Usually, they disappear and you don’t ever see them again. We had formed connections with the families last year and those connections have continued. Families have shared photos of their children in school uniform with us because the families see us relevant to the child’s journey to school. Being on site here is so special and so beneficial for those children who could be prone to experiencing a little anxiety at the unknown.

“The kinder in the school has meant children benefit from seeing the facilities and become familiar with the grounds. Children establish that Belonging with the school early and by the time their transition sessions commence they are more likely to focus on building connections with their teachers and the new children around them – and less likely they are overwhelmed with the newness of it all.”

Teachers at Docklands Primary School agree.

“Gowrie children were so well prepared and excited for their transitions. It was great to have them onsite and start to wave at them through the fence as a friendly familiar face before they even became Docklands students.” Jaclyn Dominey, Learning Specialist

“Having the kinder in the school has meant the children begin Prep feeling familiar and comfortable within the school surroundings. They transition into being grown up school students really well.” Romy Sujica, Prep B Classroom Teacher

“The Prep students wave goodbye to their families in the morning and turn around without looking back. This is testament to their comfort in the Docklands environment, having been through the Gowrie kinder program. We have been impressed at their confidence! The smooth movement from kinder to Prep has been supported through the transition program and the relationships built between the kinder and school.” Bethany Tonkin, Prep A Classroom Teacher

It has never been more clear to me how important the kinder year is. Early childhood can be about the children, their independence, imagination and creativity, their sense of wonder and individuality. It can also be about connections between educators and family and friends, and also connections to the school community. Having the kinder connected to the school allows us as early childhood teachers to remain a part of that community still. As the months and years pass, we look forward to seeing the children who we put so much thought and care into, continue on their journey. Seeing outcomes for children unfold will ultimately allow us to inform our practice and become better teachers.

Between 2020 and 2023 the Victorian State Government has committed to 20 new kindergartens in or next to existing primary schools and 21 new kindergartens to be built within brand new primary schools.