Starting school is an important milestone in any child and family’s life. For families of children with developmental delay or disability, transition to school requires additional thought, time, planning and support to make the process as smooth and as positive as possible.
Assembly is where the whole school or a section of the school comes together to hear information and share learning experiences.
Some of the things that may happen are:
messages may be shared by the teachers,
awards may be handed out,
the national anthem may be sung, and
parents and family members may be invited to attend.
Kindergarten refers to the first year of formal schooling in NSW. This is sometimes also known as "kindy".
The names for the first year of formal schooling differ across Australia. Please see the table below the names used in each state and territory.
State or Territory
Name of first year of formal schooling
Out of school hours (OOSH) care provides child care to children before school hours, after school hours and sometimes in school holiday periods (also known as vacation care).
OOSH services are usually operated independently of the school and a separate OOSH application usually needs to be completed in order to access the OOSH service. Each OOSH service is licensed for a maximum number of children. Not every school offers an OOSH service and some services may have a waiting list.
An orientation programme aims to help children become familiar with their new school by meeting the teachers and other children, as well as learning a little about the school.
Towards the end of each school year,schools usually offer orientation sessions to the children who will be starting Kindergarten the following year.
Perspective refers to understanding or being able to look at things from another person's point of view. Understanding the perspective of other team members is particularly important for working in partnership.
1. Information for families about school options
2. Identify key people
3. Identify key information about your child to share with the new school
Click here to download "a snapshot of my child" template which you can complete and share.
4. Plot out a timeline for transition planning
It can help to ask the questions below and include this information in your timeline:
5. Information for families about the school system
6. Ongoing evaluation
Downloadable checklist of things to do in the lead up to school
I don't know which school my child will attend
I know which school my child will attend
“I wanted him to go to a regular school and his older siblings were already at this school. We were happy with this school already.”
Ying , mother of Alan
When you have considered your child’s personality, learning styles, learning needs and interests, think about your whole family’s needs:
There are three different education systems:
Each system differs in the way they provide support to students with developmental delay or disability.
In general, Catholic and independent schools support children with developmental delay or disability in regular mainstream classes. There are also Catholic special schools and support classes in some areas.
Public schools may offer a number of different options for supporting children with disabilities. For more information about mainstream public schools, support classes, and special schools, in NSW click here.
The professionals who work with your child will know your child and family and may know of schools which you might like to consider within your local area. It may also be helpful to talk to friends and neighbours.
“Our Early Childhood Intervention Service were great on a personal level (when we were looking at school options) … I attended a seminar about school options with reps from each education sector and a parent representative. Hearing from a parent was the most valuable thing in terms of hearing that I needed to really look at my own child’s needs.”
Mattie, mother of Justin
It is every child’s right to attend their local public school.
There are many advantages to attending your local school. There will be children within your local community who attend the same school and if you have other children they can also attend that school. The first point of contact for all types of public school options is your local public school.
Public School Locator for all
States and Territories
It may possible to apply for a school for which is not in your local area. This can be done after you have made contact with your local school. The principal of your local school can help you to do this.
Click here. for more information about enrolling your child in a NSW public school.
If you are interested in your child attending a Catholic School, your first point of contact should be the principal of your local Parish school. It is possible to apply for a Catholic School outside your local area, however, the first place to start is with your local Parish school.
There are also Catholic special schools and support classes in some areas.
Click here for a list of Catholic special schools in NSW.
If you are interested in your child attending an independent school, you will need to contact the individual school directly. Ask for a prospectus to be sent to you with information about the school and if you are interested in applying for the school, make an appointment to meet with the principal.
There are also a number of independent special schools and support classes in NSW. Click here for more information.
Distance education is for students who are geographically isolated or whose special circumstances prevent them from attending school on a regular basis.pro
Click here for more information on distance education in NSW.
Parents or guardians who choose home schooling for their child must be registered by their state or territory teaching and education authority e.g. Board of Studies Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES) in NSW. Parents must accept responsibility for developing, implementing and evaluating their child's learning program.
Click here for more information on home schooling in NSW.
See also Approaching a school for the first time.
“We did a lot of research and went to workshops. We also had friends who had mainstreamed their child. We already had our older daughter in the school and they were very welcoming to us.”
Khalilah, mother of Ahmed
When making a decision about which school might best suit your child and family, visiting some schools is an important step in the process.
Allow plenty of time for making decisions, completing any applications and planning.
As a general rule: schools should be approached 2 years prior to when your child would start if the child has a physical disability and 12 months prior for children with developmental delay and all other disabilities.
When you have decided on a school or schools you may like to send your child to:
Before your first visit to a school you may like to:
Here are some things you may like to talk about on your first visit to a school:
The Raising Children Network website has some useful questions you could ask.
Click here to read more.
Take along a note pad and pen to record any notes or things you may like to discuss with your team afterwards. The school may also ask for a copy of recent assessment reports
When you visit the school, consider the school’s readiness to work with you and your child:
After your first meeting at a school, what next?
Other school options:
Public schools offer a number of different options for supporting children with disability.
Click here for more information.
There are specific eligibility criteria for support classes and special schools. Placement is based on an application process. It is important to note that there are a limited number of positions available in support classes.
Parents know their child best and are aware of their goals for their child.
Each family makes a choice that is right for their own child and family at that point in time. Any decision made about schooling options, can be reviewed with school staff and members of your team each year, to make sure that the school or type of class continues to be the most suitable one for your child.
Once you have visited a school and met the principal, think about:
You may then have some new questions to discuss with the principal at each school that you are considering.
How to discuss your questions with the principal
You may have thought of some potential challenges. Before you make a time to discuss these issues, think about:
“I think _______________ might be a potential challenge for Jamie. Is there any way we might be able to manage this?”
“I just wanted to come to you with an idea. I am wondering whether it could help with (describe the challenge)______________________. Do you think that could be possible? Do you have any other ideas on how we might be able to do this?”
“I am a bit concerned about how Samir will go in the playground interacting with other children. I am wondering whether it would be helpful for the new kindergarten teacher to have an opportunity to speak with her preschool teacher about things that have helped Samir socially?”
“As Jai doesn’t talk much, we appreciate hearing about what is happening during the day in other ways. I understand how busy teachers are, so I’m wondering what might work best for his new teacher in terms of regular communication with us?”
Remember it is important:
Click here for more information about developing positive relationships with the school.
Conversations with the principal provide an opportunity to see how you and the school can work in partnership to find strategies and solutions.
This chart may help you think about how you can talk to the principal about your child’s needs.
Things I like and strengths of the school
Any potential challenges?
How could I discuss my questions with the principal?
Click here for a copy of this table you can write on.