Advice Column, Education, Mainstream Education

Taking the leap from Grade R into Grade 1- Helpful hints to prepare your child for “big school”

  • HeronBridge College
  • Category Advice Column, Education, Mainstream Education

Taking the leap from Grade R into Grade 1 can be a daunting prospect. As our little ones move from the pre-prep into “big school” they can often experience some nervousness as they are required to be more independent. 

At HeronBridge College we are very intentional about the relationship between child, parent and teacher and it is important that everyone feels well prepared for Grade 1. Over the last few years, we have seen the anxiety of children increase and have implemented practical ways in which to better prepare and encourage our children for their journey into prep school. 


The HBC teachers offer some practical advice on how to navigate the big feelings that our little people can feel as they get ready for Grade 1:

  1. The jump from pre-prep into Grade 1 is developmentally a step into independence. Talk to your child often about what they are feeling, and why, and encourage them to take small steps that build bravery and courage – like walking to their classroom on their own or making their own lunchboxes. 
  2. Flip anxiety on its head, having dinner conversations that talk about worry versus excitement. Ask your child to visualise one thing that they can’t wait to do, even if you must give them some examples of your favourite memories at school. 
  3. Ensure that your child knows that it’s okay to have butterflies and make sure that you are in this feeling with them, using phrases like “we’ll do this together” and “we’ve got this.” 
  4. Reinforce routine and stability by making a weekly planner with your child, drawing pictures or writing out all the activities that they can look forward to at school each day. 
  5. When your child’s teacher has been announced, print a picture from the school app and put it up on the fridge. Remind your child often over the December holidays of the lovely person that will be looking after them next year and what they will be learning together. 
  6. If your child is new to the school, or going into a class with new people, identify a family at orientation evening and have a play date so that your child can build a friend before the year starts. Meet that friend in the car park on the first day of school and let your children walk to class together. 

At HeronBridge we run several initiatives that introduce our Grade Rs to the Grade 1 experience as well as to their teachers and the heads of school. “Relationships are everything when preparing our learners for Grade 1” says Gina Brunsden, head of the junior prep. “We host a Grade R ‘inning’ where our kids play games with our prep staff and are treated to big kid things like a Seattle Coffee Company milkshake that they buy with their own voucher. We run orientation meetings with parents and children separately and even have a teddy-bear picnic with the Grade Rs and the Grade 1 staff, building those relationships in a way that is relevant, meaningful, and not so scary.” 



If you’d like to find out more about HeronBridge’s Grade 1 programme or are looking for some advice on the transition from Grade R, you can contact the school or book a personalised tour at a time that suits you and your family.

Contact HeronBridge College on or 011 540 4800.

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